He had a hand in this
Recovered Stuart jumps right back in
Defenseman Mark Stuart returned to the Bruins lineup yesterday after an 18-game absence because of a broken ring finger on his right hand. Stuart wasted no time getting into the scoring mix, tallying his first goal of the season to give Boston a 1-0 lead at 7:56 of the opening period on the way to a 7-0 rout over Carolina at TD Garden.
“It felt good,’’ said Stuart, who last played Dec. 7 against Buffalo. “You’re a little nervous beforehand just because you don’t really know what to expect, but I think I was fortunate enough to get that goal early and it kind of helped me relax.’’
The Bruins received a lot of offense from the defense with captain Zdeno Chara potting his first career hat trick and Adam McQuaid pitching in with two assists. Dennis Seidenberg and Steven Kampfer had an assist each.
“A defenseman, and his first one, it’s pretty special,’’ said Stuart on Chara’s scoring binge. “He was pretty excited about it.’’
Stuart wore a brace on the hand inside his glove. He had some extra protection outside as well, and said it didn’t affect his mobility.
“Not too bad,’’ he said. “I’m used to it, too; I’ve worn it for a couple of weeks now.’’
Stuart was placed in an awkward spot at 14:40 of the third period when he was confronted by Carolina’s Troy Bodie. Stuart, never one to back down from a challenge, couldn’t have fought even if he’d wanted to because of the brace but McQuaid jumped in to defend his teammate.
“I felt bad because I didn’t want to put Adam in that situation,’’ said Stuart. “You kind of forget sometimes in the heat of the battle that you can’t do it. So it’s frustrating. I thanked Adam for doing that for me but I’ve just got to remember I can’t do it. I don’t want to put him in a tough spot.’’
McQuaid, whose first-period assists gave him his first career multi-point game, said he didn’t mind.
“We all know Stewy’s been out a little while and why he’s been out,’’ he said. “In that situation, you kind of have to jump in for your teammate. We all know Stewy’s not going to back down so it was just kind of something you needed to do.’’
Patrice Bergeron was named the Second Star of the Week by the NHL. Hurricanes forward Jussi Jokinen was first and Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was third. In four games last week, Bergeron scored four goals and added three assists and helped his team to a 3-1-0 record in that span . . . Forward Daniel Paille was the odd-man out yesterday . . . Andrew Ference (upper body injury) made the trip to Carolina and coach Claude Julien said the defenseman “is a possibility’’ to play tonight. Because of the way McQuaid has been playing, it’s a difficult call for the coach. “It’s not an easy decision, but it’s a good situation to be in,’’ said Julien. “You’ve created some competition now and everybody wants to be in the lineup. The only guy who is going to have a tough decision to make, the way guys are playing, is me.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at email@example.com.