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Recovering Rask tries to stay positive

At times Saturday, the Bruins couldn’t get out of their own way, as defensemen Dennis Seidenberg (left) and Adam McQuaid collided in the second period. At times Saturday, the Bruins couldn’t get out of their own way, as defensemen Dennis Seidenberg (left) and Adam McQuaid collided in the second period. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)
By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / March 11, 2012
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Tuukka Rask still isn’t sure when he suffered the injury that, in all likelihood, has ended his regular season.

In the second period of the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to the Islanders at TD Garden March 3, Rask dropped into his butterfly position to stop a Matt Martin shot. Then, when Martin’s shot deflected off Greg Zanon’s stick, Rask tried to adjust for the tip.

Rask may have suffered his lower abdomen/groin strain prior to the deflection. But all he can remember is the sound and the pain.

“I heard a snapping there,’’ Rask said. “I knew right away it was pretty serious.’’

A week later, Rask is feeling good about his recovery. He needed crutches to leave the Garden that night but is now walking with no pain. The current treatment is rest and ice, with the hope that when the playoffs kick off in mid-April, he will be ready to dress as Tim Thomas’s backup.

Rask’s groin gave way at the worst time. The organization’s plan was to spell Thomas by feeding Rask starts throughout March and April. Thomas would be sharp but rested heading into the postseason.

Instead, the Bruins had to scramble. Anton Khudobin, Providence’s No. 1 goalie, is unavailable because of a wrist injury. Michael Hutchinson had to be recalled on an emergency basis to back up Thomas for games against the Rangers and Maple Leafs. The Bruins had to sign Marty Turco - last seen in the United States behind an NHL Network microphone - to back up Thomas for the rest of the regular season.

“There’s nothing you can do about it,’’ Rask said. “It is tough. But you have to stay positive and let it heal. You can’t be thinking about that too much.

“I feel for Timmy, because we were going to share a lot of games this month and we could get some of the workload off his shoulders, too.

“Things happen in hockey. It happened to me this time. Hopefully it will be ready for the playoffs.’’

Rask, who has never had a serious abdomen/groin injury, will not require surgery. But there is a chance he might not be ready by the first round. The original diagnosis was for him to be out 4-6 weeks. But on Tuesday, general manager Peter Chiarelli estimated Rask’s absence to be closer to six weeks.

Turco is not eligible for postseason play because he signed after the Feb. 27 trade deadline. If Rask is unavailable, Khudobin would be the No. 2 goalie.

Asked if he would be ready for the playoffs, Rask said, “You hope so, right? You’ve got to go by the week and by the day with these kinds of injuries.

“As Peter talked about and the doctors talked about, it’s probably closer to six weeks than four. That’s right around playoffs time. I think I’ll shoot for that and hopefully be better by that time.’’

Pouliot late scratch

Benoit Pouliot skated in line rushes alongside Chris Kelly and Jordan Caron during pregame warmups. But he informed the coaching staff that he wasn’t ready to continue his day because of a lower-body ailment.

“It caught us a little bit off-guard, obviously,’’ coach Claude Julien acknowledged.

Pouliot was injured in last Tuesday’s 5-4 win over Toronto. He didn’t practice the following day but dressed for Thursday’s 3-1 victory over Buffalo. Pouliot didn’t participate in an optional practice Friday.

With Pouliot unavailable, Julien tapped defenseman Mike Mottau for up-front duty. Lane MacDermid moved up to Pouliot’s spot on the third line. Mottau skated on the fourth line alongside Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton.

Mottau hadn’t played forward since he was a regular in the AHL. He had three hits in 6:52 of ice time.

“The good thing about defensemen is that when you get back in your defensive zone, they have a pretty good idea of what they have to do,’’ Julien said.

“I thought he did a great job. He adjusted well along the walls. He was getting pucks out on a number of shifts he had. He was very, very adequate as a replacement to go out there and do a job when he was called upon.’’

After the loss, the Bruins recalled Max Sauve on an emergency basis. Sauve will be available against Pittsburgh if Pouliot can’t dress. Sauve also was recalled last Wednesday, but he was assigned to Providence before Thursday’s game against the Sabres because Pouliot was ready to play.

Turco debut possible

Turco could make his Bruins debut Sunday against Pittsburgh. If Thomas gets the nod against the Penguins, it would extend his starting streak to five games, his longest of the season. Thomas has appeared in the last eight games, including a relief appearance against the Islanders after Rask was injured . . . Andrew Ference (lower body) and Daniel Paille (upper body) joined the team on its three-game road swing to Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, and Florida. Ference and Paille skated before Saturday’s game . . . Rask turned 25 Saturday . . . Zanon, a healthy scratch for Thursday’s 3-1 win over Buffalo, was back in the lineup against the Capitals. In 13:15 of ice time, Zanon was called for two penalties, including a second-period roughing call. The Capitals scored during Zanon’s roughing penalty. After reviewing the play, Julien thought it was a tough call . . . Zdeno Chara jarred some glass loose in the first period with a heavy hit on Marcus Johansson.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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