In a matter of hours, those outside the Boston Bruins organization went from not knowing the next time they’d see Charlie McAvoy play, to watching him log north of 20 minutes of ice time against the NHL’s top team.

The young defenseman, who had been out with a concussion suffered in an Oct. 18 game against the Edmonton Oilers, was activated from injured reserve Thursday afternoon. He skated during warmups to see if he’d be able to go against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and he indeed was able to play.

McAvoy, who skated on a pairing with John Moore, saw 21:02 ice time (second on defense only to Torey Krug), 1:42 of which came on the power play as the Bruins fell to the Bolts 3-2.

Although it wasn’t his most shining performance (which, who could expect it to be?), McAvoy was not tentative. He was willing to get into puck battles and had no issues joining the rush. He finished his night with two shots on goal, two hits and one blocked shot.

The biggest problem was the giveaways. McAvoy had three turnovers, including one that led to Tampa’s first goal. He slipped while trying to clear the puck from deep in Boston’s defensive zone. Tyler Johnson got the puck, and seconds later Brayden Point netted his 21st goal of the season.

After the game, McAvoy indicated he felt confident and was able to do things with conviction, even if he did have to knock a little rust off.

“To get to the point to be able to play in the first place I kind of had to feel like I was able to do those things (like joining the rush) in a clear state of mind and confident in where I am health-wise, and I was,” McAvoy said, as seen on NESN’s Bruins postgame coverage. “I mean, that’s my game and I’m playing my best, I’m joining and I’m trying to make offense out of defense and at the same time playing responsible, and I thought I did that in ways tonight.

“First period was tough, trying to shake some rust off,” McAvoy added. “Kind of stepped on a puck there, that’s how it goes sometimes. When you’re not rusty sometimes you can get bad bounces, but second and third I thought I kind of came together and started to play my brand of hockey. … Overall, first game back I was just thrilled to be out there.”

Here are some other notes from Thursday’s Bruins-Lightning game:

— Though the decision was the same, the Bruins looked much improved against the Lightning than they did the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.

While doing better than a 5-0 dusting at the hands of the last place team in the division isn’t exactly a high bar, the Bruins were a more complete defensive team and far more disciplined. The Lightning are the best team in the NHL for a reason, but the Bruins played at a higher level for nearly all of the first and second periods.

Against most other teams, that performance probably would result in at least a point, if not a win for the Bruins. The next few weeks are going to continue to be bend-but-don’t-break for Boston on a nightly basis, and Thursday’s effort should be a semi-encouraging sign.

— David Krejci provided a little bit of life late in the game.

Down 3-1 with the net empty and less than two minutes left, Krejci ripped a missile from the point that snuck through traffic and past Louis Domingue.

While the Bruins couldn’t find an equalizer, it snapped a 19-game goal drought for Krejci.

Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images