Cameron Hughes, another member of the Bruins’ 2015 draft class, stepped into the Boston lineup Monday night to make his NHL debut in the 6-4 victory over the Penguins at TD Garden.
Hughes, 23, grew up in Edmonton and was selected by the Bruins with the 165th pick in the ’15 entry draft, the same year they used a record three consecutive first-round picks to draft Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk, and Zach Senyshyn.
“Exciting . . . you work your whole life to get this chance,” Hughes said following the club’s morning workout in Brighton. “When I heard the news [Sunday] I was pretty excited — I’m looking forward to it.”
Hughes lined up in practice at left wing on the club’s grinding fourth line, with Sean Kuraly at center and Chris Wagner at right wing. He was called up from AHL Providence, where he delivered a 2-4—6 line in 13 games, to fill a void left by veteran winger David Backes, who exited Saturday’s win over the Senators with is suspected to be a concussion.
Hughes didn’t see a lot of ice time Monday (9:53), and finished with a minus-1.
The Bruins also dished forward Peter Cehlarik back to the AHL WannaBs and placed Brett Ritchie back in the lineup, pairing him Anders Bjork and Charlie Coyle.
“Energy guy . . . good motor,” said coach Bruce Cassidy, listing the assets Hughes would bring to the lineup. “Should be able to help on the penalty kill. He did a good job at that [in Providence] and that’s an area that we are looking to support with certain guys out [of the lineup].”
The Bruins lately have had a rash of injuries among their forwards, including the likes of Joakim Nordstrom and Par Lindholm, both of whom log time on the PK.
Hughes, a second-year pro after playing four seasons at the University of Wisconsin, was expected to challenge for a varsity job in September but was injured in the final rookie game in Buffalo.
Upright and in a puck scrum along the boards, Hughes was felled when he was caught in the mouth by a skate blade by an upended Sabres player. He required extensive dental surgery and stitches and also was placed in concussion protocol.
Hughes became the first Black-and-Gold player this season to play in his first NHL game.
Hughes’s parents, in Portland, Ore., over the weekend to watch Hughes’s brother play, came to Boston Monday afternoon to witness his debut.
“They’re coming cross the country and they’re very excited — I wouldn’t be here without them so I am really excited that they’ll be able to watch.”
Cameron Hughes said his folks, visiting his brother in Portland, OR, are en route BOS to see his NHL debut tonight vs. Pens.— Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD) November 4, 2019
Ritchie was back in the Boston lineup, and riding a line with Bjork and pivot Coyle against the Pens.
Ritchie missed only one game, sidelined with an infected elbow. The veteran winger offered scant details about the injury following the morning workout.
“It was just like a bruise,” said Ritchie. “Not even a bad one, but it got infected. Sort of came out of nowhere, and I guess it takes a couple of days to settle down.”
It’s possible, based on details provided by Ritchie and Cassidy, that the infection was to Ritchie’s bursa sac.
Nordstrom missed his fourth straight game Monday, and he, too, is dealing with an elbow infection.
Ritchie, who scored the club’s first goal of the season on opening night in Dallas, clicked for a goal and an assist over two games before hitting a three-game scoreless spell prior to the injury.
“I think I’ve been playing well,” he said. “And you don’t want to miss too much time — you can start to lose your timing and game shape if you stay out too long. I knew it wasn’t going to be a long-term thing . . . so I’m glad just to miss the one game.”
Ritchie saw the least ice time of either team Monday (8:51) and was saddled with a minus-2, though he was credited with four hits.
Future looks bright
The Bruins had one more pick after Hughes, No. 195, in the 2015 draft and used to select 6-foot-4-inch center Jack Becker out of Mahtomedi (Minn.) High School.
Now a junior at the University of Michigan, Becker is a teammate of John Beecher, the 6-3 center from Elmira, N.Y., the Bruins selected off the US National Team Development Program in June with the 30th pick in the draft.
Bruins fans can get a live look at both prospects when Michigan travels to Durham, N.H., this month to face UNH. Both games, Friday Nov. 22 and Sat. Nov. 23, faceoff at 7 p.m.
Jaroslav Halak stopped 40 shots to improve to 4-1-1. Tuukka Rask (7-0-1) will get he call Tuesday night in Montreal when the Bruins face the Habs for the first time this season . . . Connor Clifton was back on the No. 3 D pairing with Matt Grzelcyk. Clifton took a seat Saturday, allowing No. 7 defenseman Steve Kampfer to slot in for a second game this season . . . Cassidy said Backes, injured in a collision Saturday night with Ottawa’s Scott Sabourin, will remain sidelined at least through the Habs game. The Bruins have not said Backes was concussed in his collision, but Cassidy alluded to it Saturday night when he said “Do the math” aftrer first announcing that the veteran winger sustained an upper-body injury . . . Provided there are no detours, Zdeno Chara will play his 1,500th regular-season game Tuesday night in Montreal. He’ll also stand but 30 games from playing in his 1,000th game with the Bruins . . . Cassidy said last week that Kevan Miller could begin full contact practices with the club this week. If so, it will have to be Thursday because Miller remained in a a red (non-contact) sweater for the Monday morning workout . . . Cassidy on Cehlarik’s return to Providence: “I didn’t feel he was the best fit [on a fourth line] with Kuraly and Wagner. And that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have done it either, if he played a certain way. We saw Danton Heinen go through that. And [Brad Marchand] started that way, but that’s just not his game right now so we are not going to force it either.”
The Penguins outshot the Bruins, 54-46, the most shots this season by the Pens and by far the most allowed by Boston. Previous high against the Bruins: 36 two times this season . . . David Pastrnak squeezed off a game-high 10 shots, five of which made it to the net. Justin Schultz also launched 10 for the Pens, but only four made it to Halak . . . Brandon Carlo landed five smacks for the Bruins. He is getting more assertive in his fourth pro season . . . The Pens owned a slight edge at the faceoff dot, winning 54 percent of the 56 drops. Malkin proved the difference maker, winning 8 of his 11 drops. David Krejci lost five of eight . . . Eyesore stat of the night: Sidney Crosby, who didn’t pick up a point, finished -4, as did Jake Guentzel. Both of them began the night plus-5 for the season.