Boston Bruins

Mar 7, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) during the second period against the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask’s return from a six-game absence lasted just one period Thursday, as an upper-body injury knocked the 34-year-old Rask out after just 20 minutes of action against the Islanders.

Absent from game action since suffering an undisclosed injury in the waning moments of a Mar. 7 loss to the Devils, Rask stopped all six Islander shots thrown his way during that one-period effort at TD Garden, but was once again wincing and struggling to make his way off the ice late in the period.

It was almost identical to the last time we saw Rask hobbling off the ice, too, as his limitations were obvious but wildly difficult to pinpoint in terms of the actual ailment itself.

And speaking with reporters after his team’s fifth loss to the Islanders in as many 2021 head-to-heads, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy had little to offer when it came to Rask’s status.

“No idea,” Cassidy said when asked for an update on Rask. “I haven’t seen him since [he left the game] and obviously just got down [to the media room]. So probably have a better, much better update [Friday] for you.”

This is a potentially bitter pill for the Bruins to swallow, too, as they outright admitted that they wanted to get Rask some work in a morning skate that was cancelled before it ever started due to a scheduling conflict at Warrior Ice Arena. Rask told the Bruins that he felt well enough to play, sure, but if the movement and workload of a relatively easy six-shot opening frame was enough to tweak something, it’s not hard to imagine that it would’ve popped up during that morning skate.

With Rask out, the Bruins went back to Jaroslav Halak, who stopped 17 of 21 in a losing effort, and are now staring at a potential back-to-back weekend with Halak and Daniel Vladar as their options in net. That could lead the Bruins down a road where Halak is playing three games in four nights, but with meetings against the Sabres (16 straight losses) and Devils set for this weekend back-to-back, perhaps the Bruins could feel comfortable turning back to Vladar.

Rask is 8-4-2 with a .907 save percentage in 15 games this season.