Bruins sputter in Motor City
DETROIT — For some reason, midway through yesterday’s third period, Johnny Boychuk believed it was the correct time to pinch down the right wall to keep the cycle going. The next thing Boychuk and the Bruins knew, the Red Wings had countered with two perfect chips by Brian Rafalski and Henrik Zetterberg, leading to a two-on-one rush for Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi.
Naturally, a veteran club like Detroit made the Bruins pay.
Franzen slipped a cross-crease pass to Bertuzzi, who buried the setup at 13:55. It was the fourth and crushing strike in Detroit’s 4-2 win over the Bruins before 20,066 at Joe Louis Arena.
In less than 48 hours, Detroit swiped 4 points (the Wings humbled the Bruins, 6-1, Friday night) and showed the Black and Gold that the Wheel is still the boss.
“The biggest thing that sticks out for me is the type of mistakes we’ve made in the last two games,’’ said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “There’s mistakes. This is a game of mistakes. But the type of mistakes that you make can make a difference. Bad pinches. We haven’t given up two-on-ones like that in a long time. We gave those up. Ill-advised decisions. Even their first goal, we gave them that one.
“We didn’t help ourselves. We had some chances when it was 3-2 to tie it up. We had a couple scoring chances. Had we scored, maybe that would have made a difference. But they come back and score on the two-on-one. That kind of put the nail in the coffin.’’
Bertuzzi’s goal was his second of the game. His first came after one of Brad Marchand’s most glaring cough-ups of the season. Marchand has been one of the league’s best rookies and arguably the Bruins’ feistiest forward.
But in the first period, with the Bruins ahead, 1-0, Marchand tried a backhand pass into center ice in the defensive zone instead of chipping the puck off the wall. Bertuzzi was in perfect position to pick off Marchand’s pass and go one-on-one against Tim Thomas. Thomas darted out and poke-checked the puck off Bertuzzi’s stick. But Bertuzzi regained control and backhanded a shot past Thomas at 6:09 to tie the game at 1-1.
Bertuzzi’s goal stained an otherwise efficient first period for the Bruins, one that stood in sharp contrast to Friday night’s first 20 minutes, when the Wings nearly skated the home club out of TD Garden. The Bruins played a far heavier style than they did at the Garden, winning races and leaning on the Wings.
At 12:17, while skating on the power play for only the second time this season, Marchand wiped out his earlier mistake with his first NHL man-advantage goal. He drove to the net and tapped in a Michael Ryder feed to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.
The first period, however, was as good as the Bruins were going to get. In the second, Detroit ramped up its fleet-footed puck-possession game, putting 19 shots on Thomas to the Bruins’ six attempts on Jimmy Howard (23 saves).
“We have to get better, from here on in, to keep the level of our play where it should be,’’ said Julien. “It dropped a little bit in the second. We’ve seen that happen before.’’
Detroit kicked off its second-period rally when Pavel Datsyuk scored his 14th goal. Thomas (32 saves) got in front of a Rafalski point shot, but steered the rebound to Datsyuk, who banged home the rebound at 3:54.
At 12:44, Kris Draper scored the winning goal. As usual, the sequence started with the puck on Nicklas Lidstrom’s stick in the Detroit zone. Lidstrom, free of any Boston forecheckers, spotted Darren Helm open in the middle. After Helm took a crisp first pass from Lidstrom — aren’t they all? — the center gave the puck to Patrick Eaves. He slid a seam pass to Draper at the far post. Draper, who had blown past Tyler Seguin, went high blocker on Thomas to nudge the Wings into the lead, 3-2.
At the other end, the Bruins couldn’t generate any sustained looks on Howard. The No. 1 line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Nathan Horton, dominant against Montreal last Wednesday, had neither time nor space to put pucks on goal. Horton (one shot) was especially invisible in 13:04 of ice time.
“They play real tight in the defensive zone and in the neutral zone,’’ Lucic said. “You definitely have to work hard to get your chances. That’s what’s made them a good hockey club for a long time here.
“It’s unfortunate because we felt pretty good about today’s game, especially that first period. It’s too bad we couldn’t get the job done.’’
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com.