With Hnidy now with Minnesota, Stuart is paired with Matt Hunwick but the job remains the same. Through the first two games of this season, it was mission accomplished. But in Thursday night's 6-1 loss to Anaheim at TD Garden, the bottom fell out on the young duo.
Hunwick was a minus-2 and committed a momentum-turning penalty in the second period, and Stuart was a minus-1 with no hits.
"The first period, I felt good," Hunwick said. "There were certain plays that I obviously would like to have back, just little things. But that's where consistency comes in. I think you can feel good for the majority of the game and one shift can kind of change your whole night."
That shift came early in the middle stanza, with Stuart and Hunwick squaring off against Anaheim's third line of Evgeny Artyukhin, Todd Marchant and Joffrey Lupul. With the Ducks cycling with the puck in the Boston end and darting behind the net for what seemed an eternity, Hunwick pulled down Artyukhin next to the Bruins' net after the forward had passed the puck and was called for interference. Less than a minute later, Marco Sturm's hooking penalty put the Ducks on a 5-on-3 advantage. Anaheim -- specifically Teemu Selanne -- cashed in on both penalties, erasing a 1-0 Boston lead for good.
"They had us in there for a period of time and it was a bad penalty," said Hunwick.
Added Stuart: "They were cycling on us pretty good. I don't think they really got a good chance, they just kind of got us running around a little bit. Unfortunately we had the penalty and then another one, so it was 5-on-3, and then the two goals. That was the turning point."
Things didn't get any better for Hunwick, as he was beaten 1-on-1 on an Artyukhin goal in the third period.
Coach Claude Julien, who called out everyone on his club but the fourth line, didn't single out Hunwick or Stuart, but said they "both had tough nights." But when you play the fewest minutes among the defense corps, every needless penalty, every missed opportunity to clear the puck is magnified. Thursday night, Stuart and Hunwick were ants burning under sunlight shining through a magnifying glass.