PITTSBURGH — David Krejci left here in a tailored gray suit, his left leg not in a walking boot, splint, or cast. No small favor that.
The savvy, skilled No. 1 Bruins center, felled by a Johnny Boychuk slapper in the closing minutes of Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Penguins, gingerly made his way to the team bus and joined one and all for the scheduled flight to Winnipeg.
“I just tried to rip one there,’’ explained Boychuk, who delivered his smoking shot from above the right wing circle, only to see it crumple up Krejci at the top of the crease, near the right post. “And it hit him. I hope he’s OK. I got a good pass there from Z [Zdeno Chara] . . . I had a whole [shooting] lane and lots of time, so I put everything on it. I just hope he’s OK.’’
Krejci, per standard club practice, was not made available to the media after the game. Offering very little on the matter when asked about it, coach Claude Julien simply said, “That’s hockey.’’ He added that he knew nothing more about Krejci’s condition.
Patrice Bergeron, who suffered similar friendly fire from a Boychuk shot last year (“Yeah, I learned!’’), noted that Krejci was trying to provide a screen for the blast.
“Both guys were doing their jobs,’’ he said. “Unfortunately, it hurts.’’
The Bruins recently lost third-line center Chris Kelly, possibly for the season, because of a broken tibia suffered in a collision with Ottawa’s Chris Neil. If Krejci needs to miss time, an immediate move would be for Lane MacDermid to slip into the lineup, unless the Bruins recall top Providence scorer Ryan Spooner.
“You miss a guy like Krejci in the last five minutes when you’re trying to get a goal,’’ said Bergeron.
“Obviously, you are concerned when one of your best guys goes down,’’ said goalie Tuukka Rask. “Hopefully it’s only a deep bruise.’’
The Penguins nailed a goal in the closing moments of the first period that was a showcase piece for Boston-area college hockey — and it was the winning goal to boot.
Northeastern’s Joe Vitale made the pot, snapping home a top-corner wrister as he fell in the right faceoff circle.
Rask muffed the first attempt, a long-range wrister by Harvard’s Craig Adams that Rask said he might have gloved cleanly if not for it first deflecting off blue liner Andrew Ference.
But Vitale made the astute follow, knocking home his first goal of the season with Rask yet to return fully to the crease. The second assist went to Boston College’s Brooks Orpik.
He had hand in it
Tyler Seguin, who scored Boston’s only goal, matched Milan Lucic for a game-high five shots on net. He also led all Bruins forwards in ice time with 20 minutes 31 seconds, 26 seconds more than Bergeron.
Bergeron was whistled for delay of game, a faceoff violation, when he allegedly put his hand on the puck during a faceoff in the second period. On the ice and after the loss, he adamantly denied that he ever touched the puck.
“I had my hand over it,’’ he noted. “But I was aware that’s a penalty this year and so I thought not to touch it.’’
Julien, however, watched the replay and said Bergeron “grazed’’ the puck with his glove.
“Not a big deal,’’ said the coach. “We killed the penalty.’’
It was Pittsburgh’s only power play all day. The Bruins came up empty on two power plays of their own.
The Bruins fired a total 65 shots Tomas Vokoun’s way, but only 32 made it to the net. The Penguins fired substantially fewer times on Rask, connecting on only 18 of their 40 tries . . . Orpik led all skaters with his seven hits. Adam McQuaid landed four smacks for Boston . . . Tough day at the faceoff dot for the Penguins’ Brandon Sutter, who won only 5 of 14 drops (36 percent). Bergeron and Krejci combined to win about 60 percent (20 of 34). Greg Campbell won only 2 of 8 (25 percent). No soup for him . . . The Bruins continue their four-game roadie Tuesday night in Winnipeg, where they’ll oppose exiled Black-and-Golders Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart (the ransom GM Peter Chiarelli paid two years ago to acquire Rich Peverley). The trip continues with stops in Ottawa (Thursday) and Toronto (Saturday). The next Garden game is next Monday against the Leafs.