January 14, 2011

Kampfer's late goal KO's Flyers

by Jesse Connolly

Brad Marchand congratulates Steve Kampfer on his game-winning goal. (Getty)

BOSTON -- After a five-game run that saw him score three goals, many believed it would be tough for the Bruins to even consider sending rookie blueliner Steve Kampfer back to the AHL.

 Following the B's wild 7-5 victory over the conference-leading Flyers on Thursday night, one which saw Kampfer score the game-winner with 1:14 left in regulation, you can likely kiss any looming demotion talk goodbye.

 Kampfer's wrist shot that eluded Flyers netminder Brian Boucher sent the crowd on hand at TD Garden into a full-fledged frenzy, capping off a crazy, back-and-forth affair that was oozing with playoff intensity.

 "You know, I saw the guy rimming the puck around the wall there," Kampfer said of his winning tally. "I had a jump on the guy, the forward up on the red line, so I just jumped in, I just tried to get a shot on net, and I was fortunate enough to beat him far-side high."

 The 22-year-old defenseman's strike marked the fifth lead change of the game. Boston began the final frame down 3-2, quickly jumped ahead 4-3, but then were faced with a 5-4 deficit with less than 10 minutes to go.

 "Yeah, it was just teeter-totter," said Kampfer. "We started sustaining pressure and a couple bad bounces, a couple bad shifts and they’re right back in the lead. So, it’s something we’ve got to tighten up on, and we’ll work on in practice but we were lucky to get two points out of here."

 Falling behind didn't sit well with the young blueliner. Kampfer tried to get his teammates going with two monstrous hits after Sean O'Donnell put Philly ahead, including a jarring check on forward Scott Hartnell.

 "I guess that’s just part of the edge, right?" he said. "Everyone talks about (how) you’ve gotta have an edge to your game. I’m not gonna lie, I was a little mad that we had the lead at the beginning of the third and we gave it right back.

 "Personally, I thought something needed to change. When I saw Hartnell coming down with his head down there, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to step up and put a hit on him, and try and get this crowd back in the game."

 Just one month ago, Kampfer was hard at work  in his attempt to earn an opportunity to play in the National Hockey League, excelling in his first pro season with the B's AHL affiliate in Providence.

 Now, he's virtually doing it all at the NHL level, with big goals, big hits and an overflowing abundance of both confidence and poise that gives one the impression that Kampfer is wise beyond his years.

 "I don’t think I ever pictured being here, not in the NHL this quick," said Kampfer. "You know, it was unfortunate that 'Stu' (Mark Stuart) got hurt, but it made an opportunity and I’m just trying to make the most of it now, and I’m just trying to help this team win.

"We have seven games left until the All-Star break here, so we’re trying to go on a little roll until we have a couple days off."