Zdeno Chara back for Bruins

BOSTON -- Bruins captain Zdeno Chara made his much-anticipated return to the lineup Thursday night during Boston's 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden.

In his first game since tearing a ligament in his left knee on Oct. 23 -- a span of 19 games -- Chara understandably was a bit off with his timing, but he still logged 24:11 of ice time.

"It was exciting to be playing a game, that's for sure," he said. "You know, there's no secret that I felt the absence of missing a good chunk of time. But again, I'm not going to make excuses. You have those games that you have to break in and I'm looking forward to the next game to be better."

Chara was penalized twice in the game, once for hooking and another for delay of game. He was reunited with defensive partner Dougie Hamilton.

Chara had been skating on his own the last couple of weeks and returned to full practice with the team earlier this week before he was cleared to play. He admitted his rust was noticeable, but he had never been sidelined for this long during his career.

"You can practice as much as you want to but you will never replace the game situations or the way you're going to be reading plays and so on," he said.

"So yeah, I mean early on it was just one of those things that I was trying to really focus to make simple plays. Overall I was just really trying to compete every shift, work hard every shift, and that was my goal."

Even though Chara was not pleased with his performance, his teammates welcomed him back.

"It means a lot. I thought he was great for a guy that missed close to 20 games," said Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron. "He was himself, I thought. He looked good and was definitely calming everything down in our zone and made things a lot easier."