He had successful surgery for testicular cancer, where one of his testicles was removed. Kessel had 17 shifts and 10:04 of ice time as the Bruins fell to the Ottawa Senators 5-2 at Scotiabank Place.
"I was happy to be back on the ice, but I'm disappointed with the loss," Kessel said. "I just wanted to get back as soon as I could and now try to play through it."
He did take a good hit from Joe Corvo at the Senators blue-line 11 minutes into the game, but he bounced right up before heading to the bench. He took a second big hit, this time from Mike Comrie towards the end of the second period.
"I felt those, but that's hockey." he said with a chuckle. "I felt fine. You get hit and you just get back up and play."
Despite being diagnosed with testicular cancer in early December, Kessel still played one game before leaving the Bruins and undergoing surgery. That game was a 5-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 9.
Bruins coach Dave Lewis was satisfied with Kessel's play Tuesday night.
"I thought Phil was effective getting his legs underneath him first time and I was happy with his effort," Lewis said.
"His character is something you really couldn't identify until after (the surgery). Now you can tell something about him since he came back so early and he played so soon after surgery. It says a lot about him."
Kessel was on a three-game conditioning stint with the Providence Bruins prior to his return to Boston, where he had missed 12 games.
"I was with the Providence Bruins and got some ice there and it felt good to play, but I was excited to get back here" Kessel said.
The former University of Minnesota player is in his first professional season after being selected by the Bruins with the fifth overall pick in the 2006 entry draft. He has five goals and four assists in 28 games, including Tuesday night.
"It was (just) another game, but I really wanted to win so I'm a little disappointed with that," Kessel said.
Follow-up tests after the surgery showed the cancer had not spread and doctors said the likelihood of a reoccurrence was low.