Chara got into a fight, scored a goal and added an assist, and with the win, Boston is now tied with Philadelphia for the top spot in Eastern Conference with 43 points. The Bruins are 18-2-1 since Nov. 1.
"He's fine, obviously," Julien said before Saturday's game in Philly. "We wouldn't be taking a risk if he wasn't. He's been good now for a few days and he skated on his own on Thursday and felt really good."
Chara practiced with the team on Friday in Ottawa and when the Bruins arrived in Philadelphia, Julien checked with his captain again and it was determined Chara was ready to return.
"It's good to have him back in our lineup," Julien said.
It didn't take Chara long to make an impact.
Zdeno Chara, center, posted a Gordie Howe hat trick in his return to the lineup Saturday.
He dropped the gloves with the Flyers' Jody Shelley at 2:13 of the first period. After serving his five for fighting, Chara helped Boston gain a 3-0 lead when he scored a power-play goal at 8:08 of the period. He added an assist in the second period for the Gordie Howe hat trick.
SPECIAL TEAMS: From start to finish the Bruins had control in every aspect of the game and never relented, while dominating on the power play and the penalty kill. Boston went 3-for-8 on the PP and was a perfect 6-for-6 on the PK.
After Chara's power-play goal, the Bruins later capitalized on a two-man advantage when Lucic redirected Joe Corvo's slap shot from the point at 17:10 of the first period to give Boston a 4-0 lead. Horton added his power-play tally at 7:06 of the second period to give the Bruins a 5-0 advantage. Later in the period, with both Lucic and Horton in the box, Philadelphia had a two-man advantage for five minutes, but Boston's penalty-killing unit was solid and kept the Flyers at bay.
SCARY MOMENT: When these two teams play, it's a safe bet that it will be a battle, especially in front of the net. During the first period the Flyers' Max Talbot was batting for net-front presence with Corvo. During a scramble in front, Corvo wrestled Talbot to the ice and the Philly forward landed directly on top of Thomas. Fortunately for the Bruins, their goaltender was OK and finished with his fourth shutout of the season and 30th of his career.
NOTES: Bruins forward Shawn Thornton played in his 400th career NHL on Saturday. ... Bruins forward Gregory Campbell has not been able to skate since he suffered a fracture in his left foot on Dec. 10 at Columbus. He did not travel with the team on its current road trip, and Julien admitted prior to Saturday's game that it's taking a little longer than expected for Campbell.
UP NEXT: After a brief two-game road trip, the Bruins return to Boston to host the Montreal Canadiens on Monday at TD Garden. The Habs hold a 2-1-0 record over the Bruins in the season series. Montreal fired its coach, Jacques Martin, on Saturday and assistant coach Randy Cunneyworth has been named interim coach. It will also mark the return of former Bruins defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who was recently acquired by the Canadiens from the Carolina Hurricanes.