In his latest comeback from a sprained left ankle, Aaron Ward had sailed through three games with no limitations and looked well on his way to reclaiming his old spot on the Bruins' No. 1 shutdown defensive pairing.
Yesterday, Ward's progress was derailed.
According to coach Claude Julien, during Ward's only shift of the second period, the stay-at-home defenseman suffered a charley horse that knocked him out for the rest of the day.
Ward appeared to be injured sometime in the sequence when Buffalo made it a 3-1 game at 3:04. He ended the day with seven shifts for 5:52 of ice time. Ward's injury forced Dennis Wideman to play a season-high 32:32.
"Right now, he's being looked at," Julien said. "How severe is it? We don't know yet. These are all things we'll find out in the next few days."
Ward has appeared in 29 games this season. He sprained his ankle Nov. 29 against Detroit and sat out the next four games. He tried to return Dec. 12 but aggravated the injury and missed the next six matches.
Ference skated in the morning with Petteri Nokelainen (shoulder) and Matt Lashoff (healthy scratch). He is on long-term injured reserve, but if he continues to progress, he could be back in action this week.
Ference is feeling much better coming off his fractured tibia than he did last season, when he struggled to regain his form after a knee sprain.
"Sometimes breaking a bone is better than spraining something," Julien said. "It heals a lot quicker and it heals a lot better. In his case, that's what happened.
"He's feeling a lot better right now. I talked to him after practice [Friday], and he feels he's getting pretty close and he feels comfortable. We made sure he battled it a little bit and pushed. He said everything was pretty positive."
But Kessel (16 shifts for 16:31 of ice time) was on the bench late in regulation, replaced on the No. 1 line by Chuck Kobasew.
"Probably, I'd say, a little bit of both," said Julien, when asked whether he made the move to reward Kobasew or send a message to another player. "We needed some jam.
"It was one of those games where we needed a little bit more jam. Chuck was providing us with some of that."
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com