BOSTON — There are technically 20 minutes in a hockey period, but it’s not often that much comes of the final seconds of those periods. When something does happen, however, it can be momentum-altering, which is exactly what the Bruins were able to do Saturday afternoon.
The Bruins defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 to win their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Wings, but it was a goal that came late in the second period that really changed the tone of the game. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara unloaded one of his patented screaming slap shots that beat Jonas Gustavsson with just 3.8 seconds to play in the second period. There were still 1,203.8 seconds to play in Game 5, but that goal all but ended the series.
The goal was one of the biggest of the five-game series, especially with the Red Wings making a second-period push. Detroit tied the game just a little more than five minutes earlier when all-world center Pavel Datsyuk banged home a power-play goal. That goal was the culmination of a surge in the middle period from the Red Wings, who looked more than ready to push the Bruins to the brink in an attempt to extend the series.
The Bruins did get a little help along the way. Referees Steve Kozari and Dean Morton got a little trigger-happy in the waning moments of the period. In the final 3:12 of the second, four penalties were called. That included a cross-checking call on Wings defenseman Brendan Smith that gave the Bruins a 4-on-3 power play with 15 seconds to play in the period.
That’s when the ever-potent Boston power play went to work and did what it did best in this series: score. Patrice Bergeron made an incredible pass to Chara, and the big defenseman unloaded a howitzer that Gustavsson had no chance of stopping. The goal sent the 17,565 into pandemonium as the usually mild-mannered Chara screamed with delight as he was joined by teammates.
“(Bergeron) just showed how quickly he can see the opening and made a really great pass to me,” Chara said. “I mean, I was emotional. It was a big game and a big goal. So, I’m not afraid to show it.”
The goal not only gave the Bruins the lead, but it gave them momentum.
“You knew that if you can go into the second intermission there getting back up a goal it would definitely give you that momentum back and kind of that positive mindset back,” Bruins winger Milan Lucic said.
The Bruins didn’t take long to benefit from the surge of good vibes gained from Chara’s goal. Lucic was able to net his second goal in as many games just 4:27 into the third period that pushed the lead to two. The Bruins obviously didn’t look back from there on their way to wrapping up the series.
The ability to regain the lead and build on it so quickly took away whatever life the Red Wings had left. That’s the mark of a veteran team that knows how to win and knows how important every second of the full 60 minutes can be.