December 7, 2013

NHL: Chara goal gives Bruins win over Penguins

Defenseman scores goal with 13 seconds left in regulation

BOSTON (AP) – The Boston Bruins’ last-minute win was overshadowed by Shawn Thornton’s takedown of Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik.

Zdeno Chara scored with 13 seconds left in regulation after David Krejci tied it late, lifting the Bruins to a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday night in a game that saw Orpik taken from the ice on a stretcher.

Midway into the opening period, Thronton was given a match penalty for grabbing Orpik from behind, pulling him to the ice and punching him when he was down. Orpik appeared to be dazed by a punch, but may have also hit his head on the ice.

The Penguins said on their Twitter site that Orpik returned from Massachusetts General Hospital and will be traveling with the team back to Pittsburgh, according to Penguins coach Dan Bylsma.

“Obviously I made a mistake,” Thornton said. “I’m aware of it. I’ve been told that they’re having a hearing and it’s hard for me to say much more other than that’s not my intention. I feel awful. I feel sick.”

Thronton, known as the Bruins’ enforcer, knows he went over the line that comes with his role.

“It’s always my job, I guess, to defend my teammates, but I’ve prided myself for a long time to stay within the lines,” he said, speaking very quietly in the dressing room. “It’s hard for me to talk about right now. I can’t say I’m sorry enough. I’m sure I’ll be criticized, but it’s true.”

Reilly Smith also scored for the Bruins, who haven’t lost in regulation at home since late October (10-0-2).

Tuukka Rask stopped 28 shots for Boston.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said both teams should take some blame for physical play that went over the line at times.

“The only thing I’m going to say is it’s not just one way here,” he said. “There’s a lot of blame to go around. We can all learn from it.”

Chris Kunitz and James Neal scored power-play goals for the Penguins, who had their season-high, five-game winning streak halted.

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 18 shots for Pittsburgh.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby felt an early hit by Orpik led to emotions running high.

“I think Orps’ hit on (Loui) Eriksson probably led to what happened with Thornton and all the things prior to that,” he said. “So, yeah, I think that’s a big reason why.”

Julien said Eriksson left with a concussion and will not travel to Toronto for Sunday’s game.

Krejci scored with 1:29 to play, beating Fleury with a wrister from the slot. Chara unloaded the winner from near the middle of the faceoff circles, cutting in from the right point.

“It was playoff-kind of hockey,” Chara said. “We were behind that whole game and fighting for that tying goal. Eventually we got it and carried that momentum through the rest of the game, and we were able to score the goal.”

The Penguins led 2-1 after one period on the goals by Kunitz and Neal.

Neal was surprised by Thornton’s actions.

“I’m not going to comment on that, obviously never like to see anything like that,” he said. “Thought the confrontation was over after you know he asked him to fight a few times and kept going after him.”

Kunitz made it 1-0 at 6:33 when his centering shot/pass from the bottom of the left circle caromed into the net by Rask off the body of Chara, who was at the edge of the crease.

Boston had tied it 1-all when Smith unloaded a slap shot over the left shoulder of Fleury before Neal beat Rask with a wrister between the pads at 13:13.

(Continued on page 2)

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