BOSTON -- There’s an image from Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals this past June when Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was leaning over and yelling in the face of Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.
Their tussle at center ice followed a fight between the Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron and the Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin at the end of the first period. Boston won that game and eventually swept the Penguins in that series as Crosby did not register a point.
After the series, Pittsburgh wanted it known that Chara punched Crosby in his surgically repaired jaw and released footage of the incident.
Crosby had missed the final 12 games of the regular season and the first game of the quarterfinals with a broken jaw. He also played with a cage in the first two rounds but removed it for the conference finals against the Bruins.
The Penguins and Bruins have already played this season with Pittsburgh beating Boston 3-2 on Oct. 30 at Pittsburgh. The teams will face off again Monday night at TD Garden.
Following the Penguins' morning skate, Crosby revisited that emotional series and his run-in with Chara.
“He punched me in the jaw and I obviously wasn’t happy with that and said something,” Crosby said. “But after that it was done. I don’t really say much to him. He’s a guy who competes, wants to shut me down and I respect that. I like to play hard and so does he. It’s two guys who want to do the best for their team and it gets heated out there sometimes. It’s just the way it goes. I don’t look at him any differently than I would any other guy I’m going up against.”
It’s no secret that almost every time Crosby is on the ice against the Bruins, Chara will be, too. He’s done a solid job of shutting Crosby down, especially in the conference finals.
“There’s always challenges,” Crosby said of playing against Chara. “Those little games within the game, I guess, he’s a big guy and you’re definitely aware when he’s out there, you’re not going to miss him. He’s one of those guys who looks forward to those challenges, gets up for those and wants to shut you down. You have to find ways to create, and the thing with him, his reach is so long there are times when you feel like on a normal-sized defenseman you’d have him beat, then he gets a stick on it. You’ve just got to be patient. There are times when you feel like you’ve got a step on him, but he finds a way to get a stick on it.”