Already without defensemen Adam McQuaid (lower body injury) and Johnny Boychuk (Back injury) the Bruins could not afford to lose any more regulars. As they embark on a four game road trip that will take them through Western Canada, the Bruins will be without three regulars, well at least for Sunday’s contest in Toronto.
Early in the first period of the Bruins 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in front of a sold out TD Garden crowd, Bruins forward Loui Eriksson suffered his second concussion of the season thanks to a hit by Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik. Not happy with the hit, enforcer Shawn Thornton tried to get Orpik to drop the gloves, but Orpik wouldn’t dance, much to the displeasure of the Bruins faithful.
Later in the period after Brad Marchand was kneed in the head by Penguins forward James Neal, a scrum broke out and once again Thornton and Orpik were the center of attention, but this time things got more serious.
Thornton managed to pull Orpik down to the ice which was then followed by a few jabs to the head of Orpik who was unconscious on the ice. Orpik would eventually be carted off on a stretcher and ambulanced off to Massachusetts General Hospital. Reports are that Orpik suffered a concussion, but thankfully for Orpik, he was able to fly back to Pittsburgh with his team.
Thornton who received a match penalty for the altercation was told by the National Hockey League that he wouldn’t be traveling with the team to Toronto, a clear sign a multiple-game suspension is on the way.
The Bruins did manage to dodge a bullet as Marchand was able to return to the game after Neal nailed him with a knee to the head.
“I was skating by him, I haven’t like seen the replay or anything so I mean I hit him in the head with my leg or my foot or my knee or shin area I don’t know” said Neal who scored his third goal against the Bruins this season in Saturday’s loss. “But I mean he’s already going down and I guess I need to try to avoid him, but I have to look at it again. I haven’t gotten a chance to look at it.”
Neal has an upcoming phone hearing with the league. Because the hearing is a phone hearing, the maximum suspension Neal can face is 5 games.
Take away the injuries and dirty plays, and boy was this one heck of a hockey game. The Bruins managed to score twice in the final minute and a half—including the tying goal with goalie Tuukka Rask pulled for the extra attacker—to complete the third period comeback and remain one point by the Atlantic division leading Canadiens—who defeated the Buffalo Sabres in Montreal Saturday night.
“I think we have resilient group here” said Reilly Smith who had a goal and an assist in the win.
“I’ve never really played on the team like this that never gives up so it’s great having this type of drive and this type of leadership on this team. They came back last time we played them and tied the game up late so I guess it was our turn.”
The Bruins will also be without forward Chris Kelly for their tilt in Toronto as Kelly suffered a lower body injury due to a slash. It is unknown if or when Kelly will join the Bruins out west.
Now down three forwards the Bruins will have to make a quick decision in regards to who gets the call-up from the Bruins minor league affiliate in Providence.
“No I have to get on the phone here and discuss with Peter [Chiarelli] and those guys I’ll probably release to you guys either tonight or tomorrow” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “I’ve got to get on the phone and I’ve got to get on the plane and we haven’t made that decision yet as we speak.”
Whether it’s a last second game tying goal, a third period comeback or a questionable hit, the Bruins and Penguins always seem to make things interesting whenever they matchup against each other. With their win Saturday, the Bruins managed to win the season series 2-1. Don’t be surprised if these two meet again at some point during the playoffs.