Gotta hand it to Chara

Senators defenceman Zdeno Chara celebrates his second goal with teammate Mike Fisher after...

Senators defenceman Zdeno Chara celebrates his second goal with teammate Mike Fisher after defeating the Boston Bruins 4-3 in overtime in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 11, 2006. (Ottawa Sun/Sean Kilpatrick)

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:42 AM ET

To the casual observer, the two goals and almost 31 minutes contributed by Senators defenceman Zdeno Chara last night -- including the winner in overtime -- after missing 10 games with a hand injury, would justify it being called an incredible comeback.

But, in the wake of last night's 4-3 win over the Bruins, that would be a disservice to Chara and the work he put in while he missed those games.

"That's Zdeno for you," said Ottawa rookie Chris Kelly, whose 10th goal of the season had given the Senators a 3-2 third-period lead. "He's been working so hard while he was out and it showed (last night). He jumped right back in there and didn't miss a beat."

The Senators were happy to say hello to Chara and defenceman Wade Redden, also back after missing seven games on personal leave, and -- finally -- goodbye to the pesky Bruins.

The win snapped a four-game losing streak (the Senators' longest of the season) and a four-game skid against the Bruins.

Chara, who grinds out an impressive off-ice regimen in normal conditions, didn't let his conditioning slip while out.

"(Chara) said, 'If I come back, will you play me 35 minutes?' " said Senators coach Bryan Murray after the game. "So I tried to accommodate him. He needs the ice time. He had a nice rest.

"With 'Z' and Wade coming back, it makes our defensive corps very different."

"It was great to get back into a regimen," said Redden, who had been at home in Lloydminster, Sask., to be with his ailing mom. "It was great to get back to playing."

Chara's winner came when he circled the Boston net and saw his backhander go off the stick of Bruins defenceman Brad Stuart and up and over goalie Tim Thomas, who faced 44 shots.

On the winning play, Chara switched spots with captain Daniel Alfredsson, who dropped back to cover for Chara as he barged ahead in the Boston zone.

"That's a play we've used a few times this year. Alfie is a good enough player on the blue line if something happens," said Chara. "When it's 4-on-4, you've got to take advantage of that room. I was going to cut to the front of the net, but there was too much traffic so I decided to go around and try and jam it, to overpower everyone, and it worked."

Chara had scored his 15th goal of the season during a 5-on-3 advantage, poking in a rebound at 15:05 of the first period for a 2-0 Ottawa lead.

The Senators also got a goal from Antoine Vermette, who opened the scoring after some good work by Christoph Schubert. The latter had moved back up front with the return of Chara and Redden.

The Bruins, who came back from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits, got goals from Travis Green (short-handed), Patrice Bergeron and Stuart, who scored with just 17.9 seconds left in the third to send it into overtime.

The win, coupled with Carolina's 4-3 loss to the Devils in overtime, allowed the Senators to move back into first place in the Eastern Conference with 110 points, one more than the 'Canes with both teams having played 79 games.

Ottawa goaltender Mike Morrison, getting his first start in the Senators' net after rookie Ray Emery had started 22 games in a row, earned his first win as a Senator.


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