Zdeno Chara is the oldest active player in the NHL at the tender age of 43. He spent 15 of his 23 NHL seasons with the Bruins before shocking the hockey world and signing a one-year contract with the Capitals on Dec. 30.
Over the course of 1,560 career regular-season games (between the Islanders, Senators, Bruins and Caps) and 195 more in the playoffs, “Big Z” collected 223 goals combined. But none may have been bigger — or had the best reaction — than the one he scored Thursday night.
In the second period, the elder statesman got the puck at the left point and fired a shot that got past some traffic before beating Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov stick side. Quick note: Chara won the NHL’s hardest shot contest five straight years (2007-12) and owns the record at 108.8 mph.
Sure, it was a special goal as it was his first with the Capitals in his eighth game (he already had an assist Thursday). But what happened next will surely give you all the feels.
After Chara scored, the camera cut to him being mobbed at the Capitals’ bench. NBC Sports Washington’s Craig Laughlin exclaimed: “Big Z with all his kids around him, I love it!”
It was quite a scene at the bench and the old guy had the biggest smile as the “kids” swarmed him and were patting him on the head. By the way, that’s not an easy task because Chara surely lives up to his nickname, standing an NHL-best 6-9.
The goal also capped off a flurry of markers for the Capitals, who entered the middle frame in a 3-0 hole. Connor Sheary kicked off the comeback with two tallies before Garnet Hathaway, John Carlson and Chara added to the pile. All five goals happened in a tidy nine minutes, 23 seconds.