COVID-19 has slowed Matt Grzelcyk’s roll.
The Charlestown-bred defenseman, who has six points in his last two games, landed on the protocol list before Thursday night’s date with the Flyers.
The Bruins recalled Jack Ahcan, who was likely to slide into Grzelcyk’s spot on the top pair next to Charlie McAvoy. Ahcan, leading AHL Providence defensemen in scoring (3-9–12 in 23 games) was playing in his second NHL game of the season.
The Bruins also called up Tyler Lewington, making him a replacement for a replacement. Lewington, a veteran AHLer, stepped in for the injured John Moore. The latter, who was hit from behind by Montreal fourth-liner Michael Pezzetta on Wednesday, was ruled out of Thursday’s game with an upper-body injury. Moore’s upper back and neck took the brunt of Pezzetta’s hit.
Moore and Urho Vaakanainen were filling in for third-pair tandem Connor Clifton and Derek Forbort, both of whom have spent the last two games in protocol. Vaakanainen, who has three assists in three games since his emergency recall, nearly scored his first NHL goal in the third period against Montreal. It was later ruled to have bounced in off Curtis Lazar.
Clifton, who tested positive for COVID while in Washington for Monday’s game, was back in Boston and isolating at home, coach Bruce Cassidy said before puck drop. Clifton traveled about eight hours from D.C. via car service.
“He wanted to hitchhike,” Cassidy joked, “but we said no.”
Forbort, who was waylaid by COVID on the Tampa leg of the Bruins’ trip last weekend, has remained in Florida since Friday.
Lewington, 27, is a right-shot defenseman. He was a seventh-round pick (204th overall) by the Capitals in 2013. The Edmonton native played in six games for Washington and two for Nashville, and 310 in seven AHL seasons. In his first year with Providence, he has a 1-3–4 line in 24 games.
Grzelcyk, who also sees power-play time, had a career-best five-point night (1-4–5) against Washington and another assist against Montreal.
In addition to Grzelcyk, the Bruins said a staffer was also added to the COVID list.
The NHL corrected an error in judgment by its on-ice officials, suspending Canadiens defenseman Chris Wideman one game for head-butting Erik Haula on Wednesday night.
A head-butting penalty was not called when Wideman reared back and slammed the side of his noggin against Haula’s face and head in the third period of the Bruins’ 5-1 win.
An NHL video announcing the suspension called it an “unacceptable and intentional head-butt delivered to an opponent’s face with force.” Wideman, who has played in 204 NHL games, had no prior history with the Department of Player Safety.
Referees Jon McIsaac and Chris Lee gave Wideman roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. After attacking Wideman, a bloodied Haula took two minutes for roughing.
A head-butt (Rule 47) is a double-minor if attempted, and five minutes and a game misconduct if it connects. Head-butting with an injury is a match penalty.
Dorchester’s Kevin Hayes, the Philadelphia center, was playing in Boston for the first time since his brother, Jimmy, died on Aug. 23. Kevin Hayes said in a pregame interview with ESPN that the Bruins have been “amazing” in his family’s time of mourning. He noted that Brad Marchand, in particular, has played street hockey with Jimmy Hayes’ 2-year-old son, Beau, and spent time in Dorchester with Hayes’ family and friends . . . Milton’s Keith Yandle had two assists for the visitors . . . Emergency recall Tyler Lewington, no stranger to the penalty box in his seven AHL seasons, had his fourth NHL fight, with Zack MacEwen . . . David Pastrnak finished with a game-high eight shots and 14 attempts . . . Charlie McAvoy had two assists in 25:48 . . . The Bruins are 15-0-0 when leading after one period.