Winger Marco Sturm’s knee surgery left the Boston Bruins without a third left winger for their group of top nine forwards and a left-handed shot for their power play.

So after kicking the tires on a few guys, general manager Peter Chiarelli swung a deal with Tampa Bay to acquire future Hall-of-Famer Mark Recchi. While prospects Matt Lashoff and Martins Karsums, who went to the Lightning in the deal, might turn into formidable NHL regulars in the future, this deal will always be a winner because without Recchi the Bruins might not have hung onto the top seed in the Eastern Conference, let alone won a round of the playoffs.

Recchi proved to be the perfect fit in the lineup and the locker room, where his Stanley Cup-winning pedigree made him an instant member of the Bruins’ leadership corps.

Stats: 18 GP, 10-6-16, 2 PIM, minus-3 regular season (with Boston only); 11 GP, 3-3-6, 2 PIM, even rating playoffs.

Contract status: UFA July 1.

Season highlight: Recchi was one of the biggest heroes of the Carolina series, as the Bruins fought back from 1-3 down to force a Game 7. Little did anyone know that while he was scoring huge goals in Game 5 and Game 6 and fighting tooth and nail for ice space in Game 7, he was trying to painfully pass a kidney stone and then recovering from surgery to have it removed. Even though Boston didn’t win the series, Recchi wrote his name in ink in the franchise’s lengthy lore as one of the greatest examples of conquering injury.

Season low light: He can be excused for not scoring a point and posting a minus-1 rating in the Game 7 loss. After all, as I mentioned above, he’d undergone serious surgery the night before. But the defeat that ended Boston’s season could also have ended Recchi’s career, as the two-time Stanley Cup-winner may not be back for a 21st season. Falling in overtime to the Hurricanes is a tough way to finish up if Recchi is finished.

In summation … you’d have been hard-pressed to prove Recchi really was 41 years old as he outworked and outmuscled both opponents, and some nights teammates, during his brief stint on Causeway Street.

Grade: A. Recchi’s work in front of the net not only put much-needed points on the board for Boston but set an example to the rest of the guys in black and gold that they needed to get dirty in order to score.

The crystal ball says … Recchi could return as a third- or fourth-line guy, and he probably wouldn’t want to be a salary-cap buster. But the Bruins might wind up going younger and even cheaper (maybe not by choice) once they’re done dealing with their more vital free agents.