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Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy able to clear COVID protocol, fly down in time to play Game 5

Charlie McAvoy, who was on the ice more than any other skater in Game 5, spent some of that time off his skates, thanks to a hard hit by Carolina's Jesper Fast in the second period.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Bruins, the NHL, and Charlie McAvoy offered no clear explanation as to how the defenseman cleared league COVID protocol hours before Game 5 against the Carolina Hurricanes after entering protocol just two days before.

According to a league spokesman, “He’s five days past initial symptoms and has been cleared.”

McAvoy entered protocol Sunday. A five-day window would have placed his initial symptoms Thursday, which would mean he played in Game 4 in Boston despite showing signs.

When asked whether McAvoy played when he was symptomatic, the NHL spokesman had no response.

Charlie McAvoy played a team-high 25:14 in Tuesday's loss to Carolina.Jared C. Tilton/Getty

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, who typically takes a hands-off approach to injuries, did the same with this matter.

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“Well, I can tell you, for the most part, our doctors tell me he’s going into protocol,” Cassidy explained. “Then, they tell ‘em today, he’s coming out at about, I don’t know, lunch time . . . He’s going to get on a private plan and he’s going to be available because he got cleared.

“Whatever happened in between, I didn’t even take any interest in because I don’t know anything about the protocols. So that’s all I know.

“We were planning on playing without him. It’s a nice surprise he got taken out of protocol to get him in the lineup. You could see that missing some time that he wasn’t 100 percent, but he gave it what he had and he should be better in Game 6.”

McAvoy, who played a game-high 25:14 in the Bruins’ 5-1 loss to the Hurricanes, met with the media postgame and asked not to be questioned about the details surrounding his return.

“I know a lot of you are going to ask questions about the COVID stuff, but I cleared protocol today,” McAvoy said. “So that’s where we’re at now, and I just want to leave it in the past, if you guys are able to respect that, and we can just talk about the game.”

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He was asked when he first felt symptoms.

“Respectfully, I’d like to leave it in the past,” McAvoy said. “I made it through the protocol and was able to join the team today.”

He acknowledged that he went through COVID symptoms but didn’t elaborate beyond that.

“Yeah, I got sick,” he said. “I went through it, made it out the other side, and here we are now.”



Julian Benbow can be reached at julian.benbow@globe.com.