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Kampfer gets the call

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By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / October 21, 2011

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Even before Steven Kampfer took the TD Garden ice yesterday morning, it was clear he would be making his season debut last night.

The Bruins had assigned Matt Bartkowski to Providence, indicating that Kampfer, who has been rehabbing from a knee injury, was ready to enter the lineup.

“It’s been a while, but I’m excited for it,’’ Kampfer said before the 6-2 win over the Maple Leafs. “I’m ready to go. I feel good. I’m just going to go out there and try to play my game, play simple, and help get this team get 2 points.’’

In 12:28 of ice time, Kampfer had one assist, blocked two shots, and landed one puck on Leafs goalie Jonas Gustavsson. Kampfer was paired mostly with Andrew Ference in even-strength situations.

“I liked the way he skated and moved the puck,’’ coach Claude Julien said of Kampfer. “He seemed to play on his toes instead of his heels. That was good to see from a first game. He played a decent game for us.’’

After a slow start in training camp, Kampfer found his legs halfway through the preseason. The puck-moving defenseman projected to be the spare blue liner when the Bruins broke camp. But on Sept. 29, when he pinched down the wall in a preseason game against Ottawa, Kampfer collided with Jared Cowen, spraining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

Until last night, Kampfer could only watch his teammates struggle to find their rhythm.

“It’s definitely more stressful watching, especially when you can’t do anything to help change the outcome,’’ Kampfer said. “I think that’s more frustrating than anything. You sit there and you realize that the team may be struggling, but you can’t do anything to help.

“Now that I’m healthy, I can try and help this team.’’

The Bruins were happy to welcome back Kampfer. Bartkowski was pushed into third-pairing duty because of Adam McQuaid’s spotty health. McQuaid missed the season opener against Philadelphia because of a virus, and sat out his third straight game last night because of a neck injury suffered Oct. 12 against Carolina.

In three games, Bartkowski proved to be far from NHL-ready.

“He has to go there, play, and make quicker decisions with the puck and knowing what to do when he gets it,’’ said Julien. “The pace of this league is a little quicker. At times, we just felt he’s maybe a little slow in reacting. That got him in trouble at times. More playing time will certainly help him in regards to that.’’

Krejci returns

David Krejci returned to the lineup last night after missing three games because of a core injury suffered in practice Oct. 11.

Krejci, formerly the No. 1 pivot, centered the third line between Benoit Pouliot and Rich Peverley. Krejci had 17:07 of ice time, perhaps more than Julien anticipated, landed three shots, and won 11 of 16 faceoffs.

Prior to Boston’s first power-play goal, Krejci beat David Steckel, Toronto’s ace draw man, on an offensive-zone faceoff.

“He probably gave me a little bit more than I thought he would,’’ said Julien. “I had talked to him before the game when we decided he was going to be in. I explained I’d see how he handled the ice and how he handled himself out there. According to that, we’d gauge his ice time.’’

Horton responds

Nathan Horton, skating with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand for the first time, responded with a goal and an assist. Horton skated well and kept up with his linemates. Horton’s goal came on the power play, when he tucked in the rebound of a Zdeno Chara one-timer. “The minute you play with Bergy and Marsh, you have to have your work ethic going and your compete level,’’ Julien said. “He did that tonight.’’ . . . Shawn Thornton had his first fight of the season, going toe-to-toe with Colton Orr at 1:54 of the first. Both veteran fighters landed solid punches. “A lot of guys came up and did their job. Thorty was one of those,’’ Julien said . . . Julien said McQuaid remains day to day. He would likely need to practice today if the Bruins want him to play tomorrow against San Jose. Considering McQuaid’s history of neck injuries, the Bruins might opt to wait until Thursday’s game against Montreal.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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