Bruins’ Chris Kelly sports team’s playoff chain after scoring OT winner

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BOSTON — On the way to the Stanley Cup last spring, the Boston Bruins made a vintage jacket the award given to the Most Valuable Player on that particular night. Thursday included the debut of a new tradition thanks to Andrew Ference: a chain with 20 links that Chris Kelly proudly wore after scoring the overtime game-winner.

“Andrew made something that symbolizes a team, a chain,” Kelly said. “Try not to be that weak link.”

As goalie Tim Thomas pointed out: “He wasn’t the weak link tonight.”

Far from it. Instead, Kelly helped the Bruins take a 1-0 series lead on the Washington Capitals by not only scoring 1:18 into overtime but also putting together a strong defensive effort.

The only goal of the game, of course, is what got Kelly the chain. He said the puck either changed up on Holtby or deflected off Dennis Wideman’s stick, but Dale Hunter still called it a “perfect shot” that was hard for Braden Holtby to stop.

“He’ll be fine. He has lots of confidence,” Hunter said. “It’s one of those shots right inside the post. Not too many goalies would’ve had it.”

Kelly admitted to being a little surprised that it went in.

“I think I was probably the most surprised in the building,” he said. “Goalies are so good now that I think that the days of going down the wing and beating a goalie with a shot or long pass [are over]. I was pleasantly surprised to see it go in.”

Holtby, on the other hand, wasn’t sure exactly what happened. He was brilliant for the game’s first 29 shots but might want this one back, even with the redirection. Kelly had plenty of time and space, and the 22-year-old goaltender couldn’t make the save.

“I don’t really know what happened on it,” Holtby said. “I kind of lost it a little bit. I really don’t know.”

It seemed like a matter of time until the Bruins put something past Holtby. They enjoyed a 17- shot advantage in the second period and watched as a guy making his playoff debut stifle them.

Kelly wasn’t afraid to get on Holtby’s case all night. The center even drew a two-minute roughing penalty from Holtby as things got a little chippy in the second.

The Bruins couldn’t cash in then, but Kelly didn’t let his final opportunity go to waste. Coach Claude Julien said it was fitting that Kelly scored because he was the Bruins‘ “unsung hero this season.”

“It was a pretty good feeling to see Kells come around the net with his arms in the air,” linemate Brian Rolston said. “It was a good win, but now we need to move forward.”

With no weak links in the process.

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