OTTAWA — As expected, when Johnny Boychuk cracked one of his trademark slap shots off David Krejci’s right leg, the center didn’t feel very good.
But on Thursday, four days after Boychuk dropped him with the shot, Krejci was feeling far better — well enough to return to the lineup against the Senators at Scotiabank Place.
“The first two days were awful,” said Krejci. “[Wednesday] when I woke up, it was so much better. Today was better again.”
The Bruins feared a much longer absence when Krejci suffered the injury against Pittsburgh on Sunday. A day later, they learned that Krejci didn’t sustain a fracture. He rode the stationary bike Monday and Tuesday in Winnipeg, and Wednesday was an off day.
On Thursday, Krejci took the ice.
Krejci skated in his usual spot between Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, and on the No. 2 power-play unit with Lucic, Horton, Ryan Spooner, and Dennis Seidenberg. Krejci had three shots in 19:39 of ice time, and won 5 of 12 faceoffs. Even though Krejci wasn’t 100 percent, his skating was good enough to make him a dangerous offensive presence.
“It’s obviously still sore,” Krejci said. “This kind of injury, it’s going to be sore for a little bit. But it’s getting better every day. I felt good tonight after warm-ups. So I felt like I could help the team.”
The Bruins couldn’t afford to lose Krejci long term. They are already down one center in Chris Kelly (broken left tibia). Kelly’s return date is unknown.
Krejci is the team’s second-leading scorer (7-17—24) after Patrice Bergeron. The Bruins are also without defenseman Adam McQuaid (strained left shoulder), who is projected to miss 3-4 weeks.
“In the past, when guys were hurt, other guys stepped up and played well,” Krejci said. “Obviously, this is another case. We’ve got Kells and Quaider out, not including myself.
“We have to play a great 60 minutes of hockey, not 55. The playoffs are coming. It’s going to be here before we know it.
“We just have to turn the switch on now until the end of the season.”
Defenseman Aaron Johnson appeared in only his sixth game of the season. He had dressed for only one of the last 22 games.
The Bruins are not planning to call up defensive help from Providence. Until McQuaid returns in April, Johnson will serve as the No. 6 defenseman — unless more blue liners are sidelined.
“He’s had a great attitude all along,” said coach Claude Julien. “He’s worked hard and he’s kept himself sharp. He’s a guy who’s played in this league for a long time. His experience is certainly going to help him ease into the groove of things.
“Now he’s got the opportunity to play on a more consistent basis. We’re extremely confident, knowing that he’ll do well. You never like to see injuries, but this is a great opportunity for him.”
Johnson played most of the game alongside Johnny Boychuk, and had one shot in 12:56 of action.
Methot is down
Ottawa was without steady defenseman Marc Methot, who was injured during a 5-3 win over the Islanders Tuesday. Mike Lundin, formerly of the University of Maine, replaced Methot on the blue line. Methot is the latest in Ottawa’s seasonlong outbreak of injuries. Also on the shelf are Erik Karlsson (Achilles’), Jason Spezza (back), Milan Michalek (knee), Craig Anderson (ankle), and Jared Cowen (hip).
“All I know is that we play 20 players,” said coach Paul MacLean. “The ones we don’t have, we can’t do anything about them.”
A home game
Spooner is from nearby Kanata, and the 21-year-old was expecting family and friends to attend the game. Spooner said many of his high school friends regularly attend Senators games anyway. “When I was younger, I didn’t really think I’d get a chance to play here,” Spooner said before the game. “Now that I might get a chance to do that, I’ll just try to play well, not make too many mistakes, play simple. If I do that, the other things will fall into place. If I’m meant to score, I’m meant to score. If not, I don’t have to score. Just get in the right places. If it happens, it happens.” Spooner had one shot and won 4 of 7 faceoffs in 8:17 of ice time . . . Shawn Thornton tangled with Guillaume Latendresse in the third period. Both were sent off for roughing. From across the ice, Ottawa bruiser Matt Kassian had words for Thornton while the fourth-line wing sat in the box. Kassian tried to engage Thornton earlier, but neither dropped his gloves . . . Toronto’s Joffrey Lupul will not be available for Saturday’s game against the Bruins. On Thursday, the NHL suspended Lupul two games for an illegal hit to the head of Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman Wednesday.Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.