Ward set to return to Bruins' lineup

Boston Bruins defenceman Aaron Ward says he expects to play in Game 6 of an Eastern Conference semifinal against Carolina on Tuesday, two nights after being punched by Hurricanes forward Scott Walker in a late-game dust-up.

Defenceman expects to play Tuesday after absorbing punch

Aaron Ward can play defence and roll with the punches.

The Boston Bruins blue-liner expects to suit up against Carolina on Tuesday night despite a sore face after absorbing the right hand of Hurricanes forward Scott Walker on Sunday night.

Walker was fined $2,500 US by the NHL on Monday for the punch, which sent Ward to the ice and forced him to leave Game 5 of an Eastern Conference semifinal in the third period.

Walker received a 10-minute game misconduct, five minutes for fighting and two minutes for instigating on the play.

Boston prevailed 4-0 but trails 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.

At Tuesday's morning skate, Ward sported a shiner around his left eye.

Afterward, he made his first public comments about the incident, calling Walker's explanation that the two had engaged in a fight "a convenient story that the NHL accepted."

Ward said he neither saw nor exchanged words with Walker before being hit, while the latter said the punch was not something he's proud of.

On Monday, Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said he's not worried about the possibility of Boston retaliating against Walker during Game 6.

"If that's the way the game's going to be played, that's the way we'll play the game," he said.

The incident was part of a physical game that saw the teams combine for 29 penalties and 83 penalty minutes.