Bylsma praises ‘formidable’ Bennett-Sutter-Stempniak line


Dan Bylsma might’ve found himself something just one game into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Penguins coach shuffled his forwards in Wednesday’s 4-3 series-opening win over Columbus, and the result was a dynamic performance from the third line of Brandon Sutter, Beau Bennett and Lee Stempniak, who combined for two goals, three points, six shots on net and six hits.

“It was a formidable line,” Bylsma said following the game. “They had the game-winner with Beau passing to [Sutter]. I liked what Beau brought to the third line.”

Bennett, 22, slogged through an injury-plagued season that saw him miss 11 games with a lower-body issue and another 51 after undergoing wrist surgery. The ’10 first-round pick never really had a chance to establish himself in the lineup or find consistent linemates, so the development with Sutter and Stempniak could be big, especially for a Pittsburgh team that failed to provide secondary scoring in last year’s Eastern Conference final after the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were neutralized.

Another pleasant development for Pittsburgh was the play of Sutter, who had something of a disappointing season with just 26 points and a minus-9 rating.

“I thought we played great,” Sutter said. “We flipped the lines around tonight but for the most part, I thought we did a good job. We can definitely be an effective line and we’re good defensively, and that’s what we need.”