Bruins Defensive Corps Steps Up After Mark Stuart Leaves With Injury in Win Over Buffalo

BOSTON — The Bruins picked up a much-needed home win Tuesday night with a dramatic 3-2 overtime victory against Buffalo. But they also suffered what could be a serious loss.

Defenseman Mark Stuart was injured during the first period and did not return. Bruins coach Claude Julien was vague about the exact nature of the injury, as he was awaiting results from further testing.  

"Stuart's [an] upper body [injury]," said Julien. "He'll be evaluated and, again, we'll let you know [Wednesday]. … He needs to be evaluated and I think we need to give you guys the right information [Wednesday]."

The news might not be good though, as captain Zdeno Chara indicated after the game that help might need to be summoned from Providence.

"I'm sure you are going to see another defenseman being called up," said Chara.

The Bruins have just six defensemen on the roster after trading Matt Hunwick to Colorado last Monday, which would necessitate a call-up if Stuart is unable to play on Thursday against the Islanders.

On Tuesday, the Bruins made do with five blueliners, and all five came through with strong efforts.

"I think the more you play sometimes, the more you're into the game," said Julien. "Our guys handled it well. I think you got to give Buffalo credit. They really went after our D tonight hard and made it hard for them to move the puck. We ended up rimming a lot of pucks along the boards and their D's were sitting on top of ours, and it didn't make it easy for us."

Chara picked up the bulk of the slack, playing a game-high 31:56 and finishing a plus-1 with five shots, two hits and two blocked shots.

"It's something you can't control, injuries obviously happen," said Chara. "It happened to Stu and it's unfortunate. In that situation you are down to five D, so everybody has to go a little bit more and log some more minutes. You just have to be smart about it and take short shifts, keeping each other fresh."

Dennis Seidenberg also logged major minutes, finishing at an even 28:00 and also chipping in five shots and three blocked shots.

"You do [have to change some things] because you have to keep it simple, but you should be keeping it simple anyway, even with six [defensemen]," said Seidenberg. "So you really can't change a lot. You just maybe try to change a little quicker to get fresh legs on the ice more often."

Seidenberg also had the assist on the game-winner that Mark Recchi tipped in at 2:11 of overtime. Seidenberg was originally credited with the goal, but didn't mind losing the credit as long as the Bruins picked up the two points.

"That's all right, as long as we won the game," said Seidenberg. "That was an important win for us to start off the homestand and finally establish a home-ice advantage, which we haven't been doing lately. So for us to win this one was big."

It was also big to get some offensive production from the blue line, even if it ended up just being an assist. The Bruins have just five goals from their current defensemen this season. Four of those are from Chara, but he has now gone 13 games without a goal, while Seidenberg scored the other last week when he faked a dump-in to the corner, then fired a shot from outside the blue line into the empty net.

"I think it's coming around," said Julien of the scoring from the defense. "What we're doing better and what you saw Dennis do well is he got himself in the shooting lane so that when Bergie [Patrice Bergeron] gave him that pass, he had a shooting lane, and he just let it rip and that was the biggest thing.

"I think we're getting the puck and by the time we're teeing it up to shoot, they had a player lined up in that shooting lane," added Julien. "We're doing a better job of getting the open lanes here and getting those shots through, and I think that's a big key for our D to help us create some offense."

Seidenberg hopes the goals will start coming now that he's managed to get a few shots through.

"I definitely hope so," said Seidenberg, who played his 400th career game on Tuesday. "We're getting shots through, we just seem to keep hitting the goalies. I don't know if it's us not being able to shoot it the right way or just bad luck, but we still have to keep getting shots through and hope to produce."

And they may have to produce for a while without one of their mainstays on the blue line if Stuart is sidelined for long.

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