BOSTON – Self-inflicted errors and penalties cost the Red Wings a chance to grab a 2-0 series lead and an opportunity to put a stranglehold on their best-of-seven first-round playoff series against the Boston Bruins as the scene now shifts to Detroit.
The Bruins controlled the tempo throughout the game, scoring twice on four power-play chances and evening the series at a game apiece by defeating the Red Wings, 4-1, before a raucous, towel-waving Easter Sunday crowd at TD Garden.
“Of course we knew they were going to come out harder and play even better than they did in Game 1,” Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “I don’t think that was a surprise to anybody but they executed their game plan better than we did.”
Discipline was a key to the Red Wings’ Game 1 win, where only three minor penalties were called in all. But in the first period of Sunday’s contest 10 minor infractions were called, including three roughing penalties on each team. In all, each team was whistled for seven minor penalties.
Leading up to Game 2, the Red Wings had talked about staying disciplined and not engaging in the extracurricular scrums that are a Bruins’ hallmark.
“I just think you’ve got to decide what you want to do. Do you want to play like them or play like us?” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We played slow, so that’s what it was like. I just looked at the sheet here; we had one, two, three, four roughing calls. We haven’t had four roughing calls this year. So you’ve got to do what you do, not what they do.”
For the second straight game the Bruins’ forwards were aggressive on the forecheck, accounting for 17 of 34 hits. They set the tempo and caused Detroit to make mistake after mistake in its own zone and through the middle of the ice.
“I think they were even more aggressive than they were in Game 1. At the same time we weren’t as efficient as we were in Game 1,” Kronwall said. “They played their game better than we played our game and specialty teams that’s what made a difference, so they’re a really, really good team there’s no doubt about that.”
Still, the Red Wings feel somewhat satisfied to return home where they will play the next two games of the series – Tuesday and Thursday – in front of their fans after stealing home-ice advantage from the Presidents’ Trophy winners.
“You always want to win every game there’s no doubt about that,” Kronwall said. “But at the same time we got one here and now we’re heading back to Detroit, looking forward to playing in front of our home crowd.”
The Red Wings’ power play was anemic, producing just one shot while going 0-for-4 with the man advantage. The power play is now 0-for-6 in the series.
The Bruins kept with their aggressive game plan even though they were unable to get a puck through to Jimmy Howard in the first 7 ½ minutes of the game. And that’s when the first miscue led to the proverbial floodgates opening up on the Red Wings.
Boston’s first goal came on its first shot of the game, the result of an unfortunate sequence for the Wings. First, Riley Sheahan pushed the puck back into the defensive zone as he skated toward the bench. Howard tried to play the skipping puck to Brendan Smith at the half wall to the right of the Detroit net but the pass was too high and hard, striking the Wings’ defenseman in the outer right leg before bouncing on to Justin Florek’s stick. All the Bruins’ rookie had to do was snap it in to the open net which had been vacated by Howard.
“Yeah it was just a little bit of a miscommunication,” Sheahan said. “I think with the line change and then yeah it was unfortunate events that happened so it was tough but we just gotta regroup and get back at it tomorrow.”
In the three minutes that followed, the Bruins continued their relentless pressure, peppering Howard with nine more shots – including six in 33 seconds – to build a quick 2-0 lead on Reilly Smith power-play goal.
Discipline was a key in the Red Wings’ Game 1 win, where only three minor penalties were called in all. But in the first period of Sunday’s contest 10 minor infractions were called, including three roughing penalties on each team.
It was certainly a rough game for the Wings’ Smith, who was involved in a few physical altercations, including a fracas with Zdeno Chara at the end of the first period. Smith challenged Chara to a fight and was insisting that the enormous defenseman drop his stick, but Chara mostly laughed. When he did finally toss his stick aside, linesman Derek Nansen stepped in to prevent the situation from escalating.
Asked about his older brother’s heat-of-the-moment decision to challenge Chara – who is seven-inches taller and 57-pounds heavier than the Wings’ second-year defenseman – Reilly Smith said, “He wouldn’t be the first guy I’d choose in the NHL to go against. He should probably think twice next time.”
The Wings cut their deficit in half in the second period when Luke Glendening scored a fluky goal. The play started with Darren Helm’s shot from the right face-off circle pinballed off the stick of goalie Tuukka Rask then Glendening’s upper body and into the back of the net at 13:20. Drew Miller was also credited with an assist on the scoring play.
Though they had their chances, the Red Wings weren’t able to build momentum on Glendening’s first-career playoff goal.
“We had a little bit of time in their end and then we showed a glimpse to start the game and unfortunately we couldn’t put it all together,” Sheahan said. “We’re just going to work on that.”
Milan Lucic’s goal late in the second period was the difference maker. Chara finished the scoring with a power-play goal at 2:27 of the third.
“They get off to the start that they want, get two quick goals there and they’ve always been one of the best teams at defending a lead,” Wings forward Daniel Alfredsson said. “I thought we did a good job of battling back in the second, but that third one for them hurt us a bit.”
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