BOSTON (AP) – Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick had his spleen removed Saturday but has not been ruled out of the NHL playoffs.

The surgery was done Saturday afternoon, about 21/2 hours after Hunwick felt increased pain while the team was together for its morning skate before that night’s second game against the Montreal Canadiens.

“He’s comfortable and he’s recovering in his room” at Massachusetts General Hospital, Bruins team physician Dr. Peter Asnis said before the game. “Spirits are high, feels well, and he’ll be there for a couple of days.”

Asnis said Hunwick, 23, thought he was injured when he was checked during the second period of Boston’s 4-2 win Thursday night. But he said the defenseman didn’t notice any abdominal pain after the game and “had no complaints” during practice on Friday.

Asnis said that when the Bruins learned of his injury, they determined that Hunwick would not play Saturday night.

“It’s possible, depending on his recovery, that he could be back” later in the playoffs, Asnis said, “but that’s something to be determined.”

He said Hunwick’s playing career shouldn’t be affected and “full recovery should be in several months. A month or two and we’ll see how he does.”

The spleen provides protection against infection and, in cases like Hunwick’s, the individual receives immunizations and is monitored carefully, Asnis said.

Hunwick had six goals and 21 assists in 53 games for Boston this season. He played 13 games with the Bruins last season, his first in the NHL.

Hunwick was involved in a scuffle with Mike Komisarek after the final buzzer of the series opener. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli had said it appeared Komisarek gouged Hunwick’s eye, Komisarek denied it and Hunwick said he didn’t know.

“The night of the (spleen) injury, he really didn’t even mention it to anyone at all until he was just walking out of the locker room,” Asnis said. “It was really his (right) eye that he was more concerned about.”

But after Friday’s practice, Hunwick said he had “some vague abdominal pain and some shoulder pain,” Asnis said. Tests revealed a spleen injury and he was sent home with close observation.

On Saturday morning, Hunwick felt “excellent,” Asnis said, but “at about 10:43 a.m., he said he had a sudden increase in pain.” He returned to the hospital where the decision was made to remove his spleen.

Chiarelli said he hadn’t spoken with Hunwick, but, “I’m told that he’s resting well and he’s going to watch the game.”

AP-ES-04-18-09 2054EDT

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