BOSTON — The Bruins lost more than just their second game in a row for the first time since October with a 2-0 setback against Florida. They also lost forward Daniel Paille to injury just 2:17 into the opening period.
Paille was hit hard into the boards by Panthers tough guy Krys Barch. Paille appeared woozy and he gingerly left the ice and did not return. After the game, the Bruins still did not have a definite update on his status.
"Not a concrete update, but as you know he got dinged pretty good there," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Our doctors felt it was safer to not let him return and examine him a little further. He wasn't well enough to come back in our minds."
Paille was being checked late Thursday night for a possible concussion as Julien noted that there appeared to be contact between Paille and Barch's helmets on the hit.
"He's being examined right now," Julien said. "They're looking at that. They haven't come to a conclusion yet, but as I mentioned when I looked at it in slow motion it was almost like both heads banged before the check was finished. So definitely we're being cautious there and he's got to be examined."
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton did offer a little reason for optimism about Paille's condition.
"I saw him in between periods, so a little bit of relief there," Thornton said. "We talked so there was a little bit of relief anyways. I haven't gotten an update on him, but at least I had a conversation with him so that was a little easier to take."
Losing Paille was still a blow to the Bruins, who prefer to roll all four lines and use Paille extensively on the penalty kill.
"He's a good player," Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. "It's unfortunate he got hit like that, but it was nice to see that Thorty [Thornton] stepped up and handled that business. It's nice to see when a guy goes down like that his teammates are there to back him up."
Thornton and Gregory Campbell each had their gloves off to engage Barch, but Thornton won the race to get at him, then prevailed in the bout.
"That's my job," Thornton said. "It's both our jobs I guess. Soupy [Campbell] is a very good character guy. I'm very fortunate to play with a guy like that, but I was trying to get over there at the same time. Me and Mr. Barch have a history anyway, so I take that upon myself, but I commend Soupy for getting in there right away too."
It was the fourth fight between Thornton and Barch in the NHL, and the two were also teammates briefly in the minors. Barch credited Thornton with helping him make the transition to playing the enforcer's role in the pro ranks when they played together with Norfolk (AHL), but Thursday's confrontation was purely business as Thornton leaped to his linemate's aid even without seeing the hit in question.
"I didn't see it, I still haven't seen it," Thornton said of the hit. "I just saw Piesy laying there and obviously the type of team we are, I err on the side of sticking up for him. If it was a clean hit then it was a clean hit, but if it wasn't then I'm glad we got in there. Guys like me and Soupy are definitely going to step in there if one of our teammates is laying there.
"That's the type of players we are," Thornton added. "We're not going to let liberties be taken, that's for sure."
Julien did see the hit, but did not raise any objections to it even though Barch was given a charging minor on the play.
"It was a clean hit," Julien said. "It was just how he ended up going down I guess. It almost looked like it was a helmet to helmet collision there in slow motion, so we'll see what comes out of that."
Boychuk also got into a spirited scrap later in the game after he laid a clean hit on Mike Santorelli at center ice. Panthers forward Jack Skille took exception and immediately challenged Boychuk. The Bruins defenseman was penalized for the hit, and had no problem with answering the bell after it.
"That's fine, I don't mind that at all," Boychuk said. "He just came up and we started fighting."
Boychuk didn't have much reason to be upset. After weather an early flurry of punches from Skille, he took over the bout and landed some big shots for the decision.
"I didn't really feel like he landed any unless he hit my helmet," Boychuk said. "I got him a couple times, but it was just a fight, normal. As soon as I got settled I started to fight instead of [throwing punches] right off the hop. I started to get better position."