NEWARK, N.J. — Despite a strong showing from Oskar Steen, the Bruins dropped their first preseason game Monday night, losing to New Jersey in overtime, 4-3.
Steen, one of many right wing options vying for a spot with the varsity, sniped the Bruins’ first goal with 5:24 gone in the second. The left-hand shot crossed the blue line and got past two Devils skaters, blasting a shot through Cory Schneider for the 1-0 lead.
Kyle Keyser was perfect on 17 shots against until he left halfway through the second period. Jack Hughes beat new Bruins goalie Dan Vladar with 7:44 left in the frame on the power play to tie it 1-1.
New Jersey took its first lead just 29 seconds into the third. Jesper Bratt tipped a Travis Zajac shot past Vladar for the 2-1 advantage.
It took just 2:10 for the Bruins to tie it again at 2-2 as Chris Wagner spun a backhander through with 17:21 left in the third. Connor Carrick put the Devils ahead with seven minutes left, then the Bruins’ Jack Studnicka tied the game with 49 seconds left to force overtime.
The Devils scored a minute into overtime, with Hughes netting the game-winner off a redirect of a Nikita Gusev feed.
Kampfer looks to get in groove
When Steven Kampfer was reacquired by the Bruins last season in the trade with the Rangers for Adam McQuaid, it didn’t seem like he would get a chance to play in 35 regular-season contests.
Then with how many injuries the Bruins blue line sustained, he ended up a bigger part of their picture than anyone expected. Given the start for the Bruins defense to this season, with John Moore and Kevan Miller still hobbled, that could be the case again.
Kampfer is used to that, though. He’s become a master of shuffling in and out of the lineup, playing whatever role the Bruins need, whether that’s being thrust into a playoff contest or filling in for a last-second injury.
As usual, what exactly his role looks like on opening night — or a few weeks after that — is up in the air, and all dependent on how the rest of the roster looks.
Kampfer’s preparation for the season remains the same.
“You try to earn your job every year,” he said. “Nothing in this league is guaranteed. You have to work hard every night, you have to perform. It’s no different than any other season. You have to come in ready to go.”
The more anyone plays, the easier it is to get into a groove, so coming in cold has its challenges. Kampfer went long stretches without being called upon — at one point, he didn’t get into an NHL game from Dec. 27 until March 12 — but believed by the end of the year he had settled into a routine and was contributing.
“I thought toward the end of the year I moved my feet really well,” Kampfer said. “Jumped into the play a little bit. Defending well, I have to do a better job at that, a better job of closing quicker. Just work on the things that we talk about at the start of the year.”
Like all returning players, it was a short summer to get prepared. The already mounting injuries on defense, and Brandon Carlo still being unsigned, means Kampfer has had to stay on his toes. He got his first game action Monday night in the Bruins preseason opener against the Devils after another summer of preparing for whatever the season is going to through his way.
“A lot of trying to get a little bit stronger,” he said. “Getting ready for camp, I skated a little bit and get away from everything for a little bit.”
Much of the lineup in New Jersey was roster hopefuls or players likely destined for Providence. Kampfer, Wagner, Brett Ritchie and Par Lindholm highlighted the NHL-experienced Bruins who made the short trip to Newark, along with professional tryout agreement defenseman Alex Petrovic.
The rest of the group were players competing for a spot — such as Paul Carey, Zach Senyshyn and Urho Vaakanainen, along with prospects Jakub Lauko, Studnicka and Axel Andersson.
It also was the first looks for Brendan Gaunce, Ritchie, Petrovic, and Lindholm in Bruins uniforms.
Patrice Bergeron (groin) skated with the main group Monday morning at Warrior Ice Arena. He donned a non-contact red jersey, but it was his first time skating with the rest of the team during training camp.