OTTAWA — The Bruins lost yet another player when No. 2 center David Krejci was felled by Chris Wideman’s leg-to-leg hit in the first period.
Krejci did not return, the injury termed lower body. Krejci has been nursing injuries all series, and is scoreless in the three games he has played.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy may have no choice but to bring Ryan Spooner back for Game 6.
Spooner’s grit remains a work in progress, but he is an asset on the power play, typically working the first unit from the right-wing half wall.
Spooner, 25, earned $1.1 million this season and is on track to be a restricted free agent on July 1. Now with 218 career games (including four playoff games), he could elect salary arbitration and perhaps triple his salary. Not likely the Bruins would want to pay $3 million or more for a pivot, though with skating and stick skills, they felt they couldn’t suit up for the biggest game of the season.
Kuraly added for grit
In need of more grit and overall “will,” to use Cassidy’s term, the Bruins replaced Spooner with Kuraly in Game 5.
Kuraly, who finished the night between Backes and Frank Vatrano, finished with six shots on net and 18:03 in ice time. Indicative of where he takes his shots (in tight), Kuraly landed every shot he took.
“I still think most of these games come down to the will at the puck, on the puck, around the puck,” said Cassidy following the morning workout at Canadian Tire Centre. “And we just have to have that. We’ve got to outwill them at the puck, to win pucks, and once we have it we’ve got to outwill them at the net to get second chances and we have to outwill them in our slot area. We have talked about that all year. Win the slot battle, in front of our net, in front of the other team’s net—the other day, end of the night, they got one [Bobby Ryan] in front of our net.
“So in a nutshell, they won it. We have to make sure that’s where it start.”
The Bruins didn’t make any other lineup changes. Key defensemen Brandon Carlo, Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid all remain on the sidelines due to injury. None of them participated in the morning workout.
The 6-foot-2-inch, 205-pound Kuraly played in the first two games of the series as a winger, and did not pick up a point on the third line. The 24-year-old graduated last spring from Miami (Ohio).
“We liked Sean’s game up here,”said Cassidy, referring to Kuraly’s efforts in the first two games. “He’s good on getting on puck and forechecking has been a big part of how we’ve created some of our offense, and he gives us that.”
Charlie McAvoy, all of four NHL games under his belt, when into Game 5 still in pursuit of his first career goal. He picked up a lone assist in Games 1-4 and landed five shots on net.
Typical of most rookies, McAvoy, 19, looked relunctant to shoot in his first couple of games, a couple of times passing up wide-open chances to let it rip. Newbies too often defer to other team members in such situations, and McAvoy said he has been growing more confident about letting it rip.
“At first it was definitely a little bit of a fear of getting a shot blocked and having it go back the other way,” explained the former BU standout. “I’ve grown in my confidence the last few games. Last game, I was able to move into the play a little bit more, move my feet more, and contribute a little bit more. Shooting the puck is one of those things. I’ll continue to grow and get more confident in that aspect.”
In Game 4, McAvoy unloaded from up high with a shot that Noel Acciari tipped home for a 1-0 lead. The play went under review and was wiped off the board because the overeager Acciari was offside.
Cassidy said he has seen McAvoy gain more confidence in the overall attack and show a greater willingness to assert himself on offense.
“I think that’s normal,” said Cassidy. “You come into the lineup, you don’t want to be the guy that messes things up, so you are trying to work from your end out. Then all of a sudden, he is a little more comfortable in knowing what he can get away with and want he can’t — I think every game he has shown a little more of that. We are fine with that. It is always a risk-reward. I think generally the decisions he’s made have worked out well.’’
McAvoy has a good shot, added Cassidy, and the coaching staff encourages him to use it.
“Because he sees the ice so well, you don’t want to paint him into a corner, either,” said Cassidy. “He can use his natural instincts, so I think you will see a good mix.”
Although McAvoy took the the shot that ultimately led to Sean Kuraly’s winner, the 19-year-old former BU start was not credited with a shot taken all night. He was the only player on both sides not to land a shot on net, nor to have one blocked or go off net.
Kelly returns to lineup
Old friend Chris Kelly played his first postseason game in ’17 for the Sens, suiting up for Tom Pyatt, who was injured early in Game 4 at the Garden. Kelly, who played on the Bruins’ 2011 Cup team, played all 82 games for the Sens this season, then got bumped from the postseason lineup when Clarke MacArthur finally came off the DL. “He’s a guy I hated to take out,” said Boucher. “He is a terrific person, a great professional. He’s helped us all year. He’s been outstanding in our room. That was probably the toughest thing I had to do all year, sit him out. Not because he is not doing a good job, but just because the other guys available were ahead of him — and for the first time this year we had a full team. It was no fun to do that. To have him back is exciting for me.”
Karlsson held in check
Senators star defenseman Erik Karlsson, who had assisted on five of the Senators’ 10 goals through four games, did not factor on the scoresheet Friday night, but he took a whopping 17 shot attempts, only four of which made their way to Tuukka Rask. A half-dozen were blocked (among 19 the Bruins snuffed out) and seven missed the net . . . Patrice Bergeron took more faceoffs (40) that anyone and won 21 of his drops . . . Bruins GM Don Sweeney will speak to the media at 11 a.m. Saturday at Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton.