BOSTON — Almost like a bottlerocket with a lit fuse, Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick exploded onto the scene tonight after a five-game hiatus as a healthy scratch.
Hunwick scored the Bruins’ first goal with 5:09 left in the first period to start the club on their way to a 2-0 lead it later squandered before falling, 3-2, in overtime to Los Angeles at TD Banknorth Garden.
But for Hunwick it was an impressive way to send a message that he should maybe be in the lineup on a more consistent basis for a team that’s struggled to get offense from its back end. Hunwick cashed in from in front of the net off a feed from winger Michael Ryder, who’s usually the player on the receiving end of such productive feeds.
“I knew I had a forward covering. He was either in the high slot or maybe even a little bit farther back. So I knew that I could jump down,” recalled Hunwick after the game. “And I think originally, I was going to go to the back door. But then I saw that there was some space in the slot area and I kind of went there and almost lingered for a second and ‘Rydes’ was able to find me.”
Hunwick, who replaced Steve Montador among the Bruins’ top six defensemen, said that after five games on the sidelines he had a little too much energy to start the game. That might’ve contributed to a hooking penalty he took behind the Boston net just 1:44 in.
“I was trying to be aggressive and I was trying to lift his stick from underneath,” said Hunwick, who logged 14:34 of ice time and finished a plus-2. “I don’t know that (the referee) saw I got his hands; I haven’t seen the replay. But it’s not a penalty you like to take on your first shift back.”
After the Bruins killed off the penalty, Hunwick channeled his energy better and was one of the rare bright spots on a disappointing night.