DETROIT — The Boston Bruins took full advantage of Detroit’s mistakes, and their stellar goaltender’s flawless performance.
Dougie Hamilton and Jordan Caron scored in the first period after the Red Wings had miscues on the ice and Tuukka Rask finished with a 23-save shutout, giving Boston a 3-0 win over the Red Wings and a 2-1 series lead in their first-round series.
Patrice Bergeron added an empty-net goal late in the third period, sealing the lopsided game.
The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Bruins are ahead in the series for the first time. And, it seems like a commanding lead the way they have played the past two games.
“I would never say that,” Boston coach Claude Julien insisted.
Detroit has to win Game 4 on Thursday night to avoid facing elimination when the series shifts back to Boston.
Jimmy Howard made 31 saves for the Red Wings, who needed him to make what appeared to be a routine stop midway through the first period on the first goal. Hamilton’s wrist shot from the top of the right circle beat Howard’s glove on a power play after Detroit had too many men on the ice.
“That goal can’t go in,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “They were better than us all night, but we gave them two goals.”
The Red Wings didn’t have enough players in position to stop the second goal. After a poorly timed line change, Caron was all alone in front of the net and scored off a rebound created by Shawn Thornton’s shot.
“Once I turned around and got to the blue line, I saw there was a lot of ice,” Thornton said.
Detroit had a 5-on-3 power play for 35 seconds midway through the second period and could not take advantage.
The Red Wings had perhaps their best chance early in the third period, but Rask made a sprawling stop to get his glove on Justin Abdelkader’s shot.
“Just tried to track it down and leave the rebound to someone else,” Rask said.
Detroit did not have many other opportunities against Rask, who ended up with his fourth career playoff shutout.
The Red Wings had a power play midway through the third period and got only one shot to Rask, whose teammates prevented the puck from getting to him by putting their bodies and sticks in the way all night.
“That’s part of our defensive game,” Julien said. “Guys aren’t afraid to block shots.”
The Red Wings pulled Howard to have an extra skater late in the game, but failed to dump the puck deep into the Boston end. Bergeron made a long shot into an empty net with 1:59 left to make it 3-0.
Since the Red Wings won Game 1 on Pavel Datsyuk’s goal late in the third period, they have been outscored 7-1.
“It hasn’t been easy, let’s not kid ourselves,” Julien said. “We’ve been fortunate enough in the last two games to get leads. We’re not going to talk about a comfortable situation because until you win that fourth game, it never is.”
Detroit did not have one of its top forwards, Daniel Alfredsson, because of a back ailment and is still without two key players, captain Henrik Zetterberg and defenceman Jonathan Ericsson, because of injuries.
Even with all three of those players and a 100 per cent healthy Pavel Datsyuk, who is playing with a banged-up left knee, Boston simply might be too tough to beat.
The defending Eastern Conference and 2011 Stanley Cup champions are big, strong, fast and talented. Boston proved that during the regular season, leading the NHL with 117 points, and has shown how dominant it can be after losing the closely contested Game 1.
“They’ve responded since then and we’ve had no push back in the last two games,” Babcock lamented.