Veteran winger Matt Beleskey, hobbled in the final minute of the first period Saturday in Buffalo, met with team doctors Monday morning and learned that he will be sidelined for approximately six weeks with an injured right knee.
The Bruins issued a short boilerplate release following their 4-3 win over the Panthers Monday night that was scant in details. It did not state whether Beleskey injured cartilage or ligaments or both, and it also did not say whether the injury would require surgical repair.
“He’s seeing our doctors, as we speak,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien, said after the club’s morning workout at Warrior Ice Arena. “We’ll probably have a clear answer later on today.’’
The only clarity was that Beleskey isn’t expected back until approximately mid-January. Over the next six weeks, the Bruins will play 20 games, which means Beleskey will be shelved for approximately a quarter of the regular season.
Beleskey took a clean, heavy hip check from Buffalo defenseman Taylor Fedun, needed a few seconds to get up off the ice, and hobbled his way to the bench and then dressing room. It was obvious he suffered either a right knee or hip/thigh injury.
Early in the second period, Beleskey made his way gingerly through the press box, with the aid of crutches, and joined teammate Joe Morrow for a bird’s-eye view of the game from the ninth floor. Beleskey wore a brace on his right knee.
With Beleskey sidelined, Jimmy Hayes was back in the lineup after being scratched Saturday for a third time this season. Hayes was Dominic Moore’s right winger on the fourth line, with rookie Anton Blidh at left wing.
Blidh’s father, Mats, was in the TD Garden stands to see his son’s “home” debut. Mats Blidh was here over the weekend, too, but did not make it to Buffalo to see his son’s first NHL game. Blidh was called up from AHL Providence on Friday, in part because Patrice Bergeron was struggling with flu-like symptoms.
“The first shift, I was like, ‘Wow, these were the the guys I was watching growing up when I was a kid,’” said Blidh, reflecting on his game in Buffalo. “Then you come in the game and it’s, ‘Well, I will try do my best.’”
Blidh, though he didn’t pick up a point, didn’t shy away from contact in his first game. He landed a team-high four hits.
“I like to be physical,” he said, “and try to hit when I get the chance.”
Blidh called home to Gothenberg, Sweden, after the game to share the memorable occasion with his mother and sister.
“I know I am here to bring energy,” said Blidh, 21, who was the 180th pick in the 2013 draft.
As a kid, said Blidh, he paid close attention to Swedish players, such as Mats Sundin and Peter Forsberg . Forsberg was among his favorites.
“Skilled with the puck, makes big plays, strong, makes smart plays,’’ said Blidh, ticking off Forsberg’s many attributes.
Blidh is also pals with ex-Bruin Loui Eriksson, who is from Gothenberg, and in the summer he practices with Ranger tender Henrik Lundqvist.
Blidh’s addition gives the Bruins two Antons in the room, the Swede joining proud Russian Anton Khudobin.
“Yes, two of us, that’s good,’’ said Khudobin, likely to get a start this week. “I wish we had another Russian, too.”
Khudobin noted that he has been in North America for more than 10 years — his first stop was with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades in 2005-’06 — and has had only one Russian teammate in all that time. He played on the same Canes team as Alexander Semin for two seasons, 2013-’15.
Born and raised in Kazakhstan, Khudobin surprised Semin not long ago when he told his pal he was moving to Semin’s hometown in Siberia.
He didn’t want to return to Kazakhstan, explained Khudobin, and opted for Siberia because his mother lives there.
“People think of Siberia as this really cold place, and that’s true,” said Khudobin, comparing Siberian winters to the deep freeze in Edmonton. “But it’s a beautiful place be in the summer — great forests and lakes.”
Torey Krug, sufferering the flu-like symptoms that hit teammates Bergeron and Brandon Carlo over the weekend, missed the morning practice but was in the lineup come puck drop against the Panthers.
Zdeno Chara, out with an injury for the last 6½ games, finally made it back to the lineup. Including the game in which Chara was hurt (Nov. 22 vs. St. Louis), the Bruins went 3-3-1 without the towering blueliner.
“You have to be aware of what is going on on the ice,” said Chara, who said time out of game action requires a readjustment to pace of play and timing. “You have to keep yourself in the right position not to get caught flat-footed or in the areas where it will be tough to recover from.”
Chara paired once more with rookie Carlo to form the top shutdown unit.
The Panthers lost top defenseman Keith Yandle to a lower-body injury in the first period. He played only six shifts and 4:51 in ice time . . . The Bruins were dominant at the faceoff circle, winning 61 percent of the drops. Bergeron, who struggled at the dot Saturday, posted a robust 15 for 23 (65 percent). Riley Nash also won 8 of 10 faceoffs . . . The Panthers were the dominant hitters, with a 31-19 edge in bodyslams, but the Bruins were shooting despite the contact, firing 65 times to Florida’s 54 . . . The Boston power play remained on life support, going 0 for 3. The Bruins are 1 for 18 on the alleged advantage over six games.
Rask in form
Tuukka Rask was in net for the Bruins, his fourth start in the last six games. He turned back 35 shots Saturday and improved his record to 13-4-1.
Rask entered the night with the best goals-against average (1.60) among the NHL’s workhorse tenders, stood second only to Montreal’s Carey Price (14) in wins, and second to Price in save percentage (.942 vs. .941).
The two early Vezina candidates likely will go head-to-head Monday when the Bruins visit the Bell Centre for the second time this season.