Losing Zdeno Chara for 17-plus minutes of The Biggest Game of the Year, Part 1, wasn’t exactly mentioned in the Bruins’ game plan.

Then again, sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do, and then you live with the consequences.

And Chara’s admirable — if costly — move sent a very loud and clear message to the Canadiens last night at the Garden, even if it did make it far easier for Eastern Conference-leading Montreal to escape town with a 4-3 victory.

At 15:35 of the second period, Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin broke his stick with a cross-check to the hip of Tyler Seguin, sending him sprawling awkwardly to the ice — and then down the runway, limping, accompanied by team physician Dr. Peter Asnis.

And Emelin, a 6-foot-2, 219-pound Russian, instantly found himself in a fight with the imposing Chara. Emelin looked a little like Ulf Samuelsson or Claude Lemieux in hopelessly one-sided fights with Cam Neely, trying to turtle down onto the ice. But Chara, like Neely years ago, kept yanking him back up with one hand and slugging him with the other.

The result: A fight major, instigator and 10-minute misconduct for Chara, who was still seated in the penalty box when the Habs scored a quick pair of third-period goals to win the game.

“That’s sometimes the way it goes,” Chara said about the decisive goals he watched. “I saw Tyler being hurt. Obviously we have to protect each other. He is one of our better players. I’ll do it for anybody. In that situation, it was just natural for me to react that way.

“We really are brothers here. We play for each other. We protect each other. That’s the identity.”