If this Bruins team is indeed going to go all the way and win the Stanley Cup in 2014, they will need to be able to regroup and answer the bell when times are tough, and their performance in Game 4 against the Red Wings was a perfect example.
Trailing 2-0 and facing a Detroit team that was buzzing in an electric Joe Louis Arena, the Bruins clawed their way back to tie the game and win it in overtime to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Tuukka Rask stopped 35 shots in an impressive performance, while Jonas Gustavsson also played very well in the game, recording 37 saves in a last-minute fill in for Jimmy Howard, who missed the game while battling the flu.
Prior to the game, it was announced that captain Henrik Zetterberg would suit up for the Red Wings for the first time since Feb. 8. The more shocking announcement came with the release of the official lineups when it was discovered that Howard would not be between the pipes for the Red Wings.
The Red Wings started the game as if they were shot out of a cannon, flying up and down the ice at will and peppering Rask with shot after shot.
Detroit grabbed their first lead of the series since Game 1 when Justin Florek was sent to the penalty box for a high sticking double minor, and Niklas Kronwall blasted one from the blue line that Rask never saw just four seconds into the power play.
The Bruins weren’t without their chances, however, as Justin Florek nearly tied the game just after leaving the penalty box, but rang a backhand shot off the iron. Brad Marchand also picked up a rebound and had a wide open net, but couldn’t capitalize and the horn sounded on the first period with the B’s down 1-0. Detroit outshot the Bruins 14-5 in the first 20 minutes.
The Bruins seemed to right the ship in the second period, calming the puck down and responding well to the challenges by the Red Wings. The Wings did extend their lead to 2-0 4:27 into the period when the Bruins seemed to lose the puck behind their net. The puck ended up in the air and was pulled down by Kronwall, who found Pavel Datsyuk for a wide open score.
The Bruins got one back during a brief six second power play, as Patrice Bergeron won a faceoff in the Red Wings’ zone and got the puck to Torey Krug, who fired a shot from the blue line and beat Gustavsson to cut the Detroit lead to 2-1 with just under 10 minutes to play in the period.
A few more chances went by for the Bruins late in the second, but the team ended up outshooting Detroit 12-7 in the period and went into the third down just a goal.
The Bruins came out firing in the third period and wasted no time tying up the game, as Milan Lucic silenced the Joe Louis Arena crowd that had been taunting him for the past two games, knocking home a feed from Carl Soderberg just 1:15 into the third period.
The teams traded chances for the rest of the period, with none better coming for the Bruins than when Torey Krug drew Gustavsson out of the net and found Brad Marchand who had a completely empty net to shoot at.
It was unfortunate déjà vu for Marchand, however, as he fired the puck an inch wide of the left post for what would have been the go-ahead goal. Marchand could do nothing but shake his head as he returned to the bench at the next whistle, knowing he had missed yet another golden opportunity to score.
Neither team was able to muscle another score in the third, and the Bruins and Red Wings required overtime to decide a game for the first time in the series.
The Red Wings recorded the first shot of overtime, as Justin Abdelkader got a breakaway chance that Rask saved, but from then on it was all Bruins, as they went on a 9-0 run before the Wings could get another shot on Rask.
The first line, which had been absent for most of the series before Game 4, made sure the Bruins went home happy, as David Krejci moved the puck to Dougie Hamilton, whose shots was redirected by Jarome Iginla and past Gustavsson for the overtime winner.
The Bruins head back to Boston with a chance to set up a date with the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the playoffs, while the Red Wings hope for a win that can keep their 2013-14 season alive.