BOSTON — The Bruins didn’t quite look like themselves in Game 1 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Detroit Red Wings.
Game 2 was a different story.
Boston bounced back with a 4-1 series-evening win Sunday at TD Garden. The best-of-seven series now shifts back to Detroit with the Bruins feeling much better about themselves.
The Bruins’ rebound started at puck drop, when they seemed much more engaged and eager to go into the corners and win battles. The quick start had more to do with being physical than anything else: Boston registered five hits before having a shot on goal, but that shot was an important one. Justin Florek took advantage of Jimmy Howard’s boneheaded attempt to play the puck outside of his crease, eventually won possession away from Brendan Smith and then scored his first career playoff goal, the Bruins’ first tally of the series.
“I think getting that first one was huge, especially after not being able to get one past them last game,” Bruins winger Milan Lucic said. “Sometimes all it takes is a lucky bounce like that to kind of turn the tide and get some confidence and momentum in the goal-scoring department.”
Indeed, that goal seemed to take the Bruins to another level. The Bruins put eight shots on goal in the next three minutes before Reilly Smith found the back of the net with a power-play goal that pushed the lead to two. Smith’s score was the result of good work in front of the net by both him and Loui Eriksson. That net-front play was another improvement from Game 1, as the Bruins found a way to fight through the Red Wings’ defense and finally get around Howard and the Detroit cage.
Not only was the offense there Sunday, but so was the Bruins’ usual snarl that was absent in Game 1. Fifteen first-period hits certainly helped set the tone.
The Bruins also showed their usual willingness to mix it up after the whistle. Somewhat surprisingly, the Red Wings gave in to that and tried to match Boston in the extracurricular, especially in the first period, when Detroit racked up three roughing penalties. Discipline started to slip away, and the Bruins made the Red Wings pay, as Boston scored on two of its four power plays.
“I just looked at the sheet here, we had one, two, three, four roughing calls,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We haven’t had four roughing calls this year. So you’ve got to do what you do, not what they do.”
The Bruins were able to force the Red Wings to try and play Boston’s game in Game 2. That’s not a recipe for winning hockey for Detroit. If the Bruins continue to do that, this series will be over sooner rather than later, and it will be Boston moving on, despite the Game 1 loss.