BOSTON -- After sitting out for 14 games with a broken tibia suffered on March 11, Chris Kelly was back in the lineup for the Boston Bruins' 6-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday. Kelly skated on a line with Daniel Paille and Tyler Seguin, finished with no points and was minus-1 in 13:23 on ice. He finished with 12 faceoff wins and overall felt better than expected after missing so much time.
"Surprisingly, my wind was pretty good, and I thought throughout the course of the game I felt pretty good the entire night," said Kelly, who has two goals and four assists in 24 games. "I think just reacting. I would have liked to have been a little better on faceoffs and timing and things like that, but it's to be expected when you've been off a month, and guys are more than midseason form. There's only 10 games left. I was just trying to go out there and, I don't want to say blend in, but just be part of it."
This was the longest stretch of games that Kelly has missed in his career, and while he didn't enjoy it at all, he still remains grateful it wasn't season-ending or worse.
"It's not fun, but the way I looked at it was it could have been much worse," Kelly said. "It could have been a lot longer, so I just tried to work hard, and get back as quick as possible and be ready to feel good when I did come back."
But while Kelly was satisfied with his first game back, he and his teammates realize they still have plenty of room for improvement. The Bruins continue to allow too many scoring chances. They were outshot 18-9 in the first period and 42-36 overall.
"I think we've got to do a better job at taking the opposing team's time and space away," Kelly said. "I think we're maybe overthinking sometimes out there instead of reacting and jumping on them and closing that gap as quick as possible.
"I think we can manage the puck a little better than what we did. I don't want to be doom and gloom. We scored six goals, and we've got to take some positives out of what we did tonight, but I still think there can be times where we can manage the puck better and closing that gap, especially in the D-zone, and taking time and space away."