BOSTON -- Boston Bruins left wing Marco Sturm, who suffered a knee injury 21 seconds into Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, will not return this season, the Bruins said Sunday.
"Marco suffered a knee injury yesterday that will keep him out for the year," coach Claude Julien said. "It's unfortunate for our hockey club and for him. He battled through a major injury last year and was really looking forward to these playoffs."
Later, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli released a statement that said Sturm will have surgery 4-6 weeks after the injury and his estimated recovery time will be six months after the surgery. That would place Sturm's return date sometime around early December.
"It hurt to lose him last night, he's a good hockey player," said linemate Mark Recchi. "He's fast and he's competitive and he's been a great guy for us all year. We'll miss him. We missed him (Saturday), but he's a terrific player and that'll be tough to see."
Sturm is a veteran of 855 NHL regular-season games and has registered 234 goals and 232 assists for 466 points in his career. The 31-year-old tallied 22 goals and 15 assists during the 2009-10 season, marking the seventh time in his career he surpassed the 20-goal plateau. He played in all seven playoff games this season and has scored eight goals and tallied 11 assists in 52 career postseason games for San Jose and Boston.
Sturm collided awkwardly with Flyers defenseman Matt Carle along the boards in the Philadelphia zone. Sturm was unable to get up unassisted and lay on the ice for a couple of minutes before teammates were told by Bruins' medical staff to assist him in getting to the bench. He went straight to the dressing room and did not return.
Sturm's injury coincided with Marc Savard's first game back with the Bruins since he suffered a March 7 concussion when blindsided by Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke.
"Sturm means a lot to our hockey team, a lot of speed and he was our top goal scorer this year," Savard said. "(He's a) great penalty killer, a fierce guy who works hard all the time. He's certainly missed right now and we'll try to fill a void we've been filling all year."
Savard played 15 minutes and 16 seconds Saturday and scored the game-winning goal at 13:52 of overtime. Savard played at his usual center position until the overtime, when Julien switched him to wing on a line with Mark Recchi that was centered by Patrice Bergeron.
The Bruins have some options when it comes to replacing Sturm. Most likely, Shawn Thornton will return to the lineup at fourth-line right wing with center Steve Begin, who played left wing in Sturm's absence for most of Saturday's game. Savard could also be used on the wing, allowing Julien to return to the four centers he used in the Buffalo series, Bergeron, David Krejci, Vladimir Sobotka and Begin.
Left wing Daniel Paille noted that he played left wing on all four lines during the quarterfinal series against the Buffalo Sabres as Julien changed lines frequently. He said the Bruins will miss Sturm, but this season prepared them to adapt to the injury challenges.
"We've battled through that all season long," Paille said. "It's something that we've grown accustomed to. I think we all know how to play with each other, regardless of who we're playing with. It would be nice, obviously, to always be able to play on one line, but when injuries come and go, you have to do what's asked of you."
"We all know the systems. Some guys might have a better feel than others but you go out and play and do your thing," Recchi said. "I've played with basically everyone on the other wing throughout the year, so you know what they're going to do and what they're capable of doing and you just go out there and get it done."