BOSTON — Newly acquired Bruins right winger Lee Stempniak has played with nine teams in his NHL career, including six in the past three seasons. He knows how to make a quick transition to a new group of teammates.
That was evident in Tuesday night’s 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames at TD Garden. Stempniak, playing in his Bruins debut after they acquired him before Monday’s trade deadline, spent the entire game on Boston’s first line alongside its two-best forwards, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
The line played well in its first time together.
“He’s a great player, he’s been around for awhile,” Bergeron said of Stempniak. “He knows where to be on the ice, he’s got a great shot and good speed as well. Every time you have a new linemate, it’s about communicating and talking and getting used to each other, and I thought in the third period it was already a lot better.”
This line didn’t produce any goals — with the exception of Bergeron’s game-winning power-play goal in the third period — but it excelled defensively.
The trio had the unenviable task of shutting down Flames duo Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, who made up two thirds of the NHL’s highest-scoring line in February.
The Bergeron line dominated puck possession with a 61.5 Corsi percentage in 11 minutes at 5-on-5 versus Gaudreau-Monahan, while also keeping the Calgary tandem scoreless with a combined three shots on goal.
This is the kind of defensive performance B’s head coach Claude Julien expects from the line he sends out against the opponent’s best forwards.
Overall, it was a positive night for Marchand-Bergeron-Stempniak. The Bruins have tried several different right wingers on the top line this season, including Loui Eriksson, David Pastrnak and Brett Connolly.
Stempniak is the latest to get a turn, and given his ability to mesh well with his linemates and do the dirty work for them, it wouldn’t be surprising if he got a longer look in this role.
“(Stempniak) looked good with (Bergeron) and (Marchand), so I think that will work out well,” Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said. “He’s finding the small areas of the ice and making plays for them. … I thought first night (the new guys) worked out well.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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