PHILADELPHIA — Lee Stempniak steered his sunset tour directly under the spotlight Monday night, his goal and two assists leading the Bruins to a 4-3 win over the Flyers in Boston’s final road tuneup of the preseason.
Stempniak, the 35-year-old Dartmouth grad, reported to the Black and Gold training camp two weeks ago on a tryout basis, hoping to secure a spot at right wing. With the 2018-19 regular season set to start Oct. 3, he remains in contention for a roster spot on coach Bruce Cassidy’s 22-man depth chart.
“He’s come in here and done what we asked him to do,” said Cassidy, who acknowledged Stempniak could make the roster. “Make plays. Have composure. Make good decisions with the puck and still be a good 200-foot player. He’s done that. We’ve seen mistakes out of our young players that we’re going to allow them to play through, but at the same token, we have to address what is best for the club. Is it youth or a proven guy? Generally it has been youth around here, but we’ll see if they bounce back.”
Stempniak has played for 10 of the NHL’s 31 teams, a 13-season tour that included a short stint with the 2015-16 Bruins.
“For me, I don’t really know what they are looking for,” said Stempniak, pondering whether a 3-point night would help his case for a contract. “I feel some of my strength is my versatility — I can play up and down the lineup, both wings, and that is something I am trying to showcase.”
Stempniak worked at right wing at the Wells Fargo Center, joined by Trent Frederic in the middle and Peter Cehlarik on the left. Cehlarik had a pair of assists.
Dan Vladar (34 saves) picked up the win in the Boston net after being staked to a 4-0 lead on goals by Cehlarik, Brandon Carlo, Chris Wagner and Stempniak. The Bruins are now 5-0-1 in the preseason.
The Flyers, without a goal through two periods, struck three times on Vladar in a span of 2:44 in the third, with goals by Dale Weise, Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny.
The Bruins pulled out to a 2-0 lead in the opening 9:31, with even-strength strikes by Cehlarik and Carlo. Stempniak, Big Green Class of 2005 and originally a St. Louis draft pick, was credited with the primary assist on both goals.
Cehlarik’s shot for the 1-0 lead was a doorstep rebound at 4:15 after Stempniak hit Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott with a wrister from the left wing faceoff dot. Carlo doubled the lead just over five minutes later, walking into Stempniak’s feed in the high slot and snapping home a 45-foot wrister.
Carlo scored a half-dozen goals his rookie season, but came up empty in the 76 games of his sophomore year.
Wagner, one of GM Don Sweeney’s budget signings in July (two years/total $2.5 million), bumped the Boston lead to 3-0 with a nifty backhand tuck at the base of the left post at 12:37 of the second. Wagner, formerly of the South Shore Kings and Colgate, will enter the season with 17 goals in 174 career NHL games.
Stempniak’s strike, for the 4-0 lead, came on a one-time slapper from the slot after Cehlarik helped knock the puck away on a turnover in the Flyers’ end.