After Detroit shut out Boston in Game 1, the Bruins on Sunday did everything they were expected to in Game 2: took away the Red Wings’ speed, were heavy on the puck and increased both their energy and physicality.
The Bruins drew the Wings into their hard-nosed game plan and prevailed, 4-1, to even the series at one game apiece.
"Well, I thought we were ineffective, period, to tell you the truth," coach Mike Babcock said. "I didn’t think we were very good. I thought they were better.
"I thought we were better than them Game 1. I thought they were way better than us in Game 2. They were engaged. They won the battles. They were quick, we were slow."
In a tough, hard-hitting game, the two teams combined for 62 hits and 28 penalty minutes, plus seven roughing calls. While the Bruins are known for their physical play, the Wings tend to shy away from altercations and use their speed to their advantage.
But Boston enforced its style of play in Game 2, which proved to be problematic for the Wings.
"I think we got to stay out of the BS out there, just play whistle to whistle, not worry about getting into scrums or anything like that and proving your manhood out there," said goaltender Jimmy Howard, who made 25 saves in the loss. "Just skate and play our hockey, not getting into their mode of scrapping. Just get back to playing our game.
"We knew this was going to be a long series. They played a real solid game."
Forward Justin Florek gave the Bruins their first goal of the series, scoring at 7:28 of the first period. In an exchange between Howard and Brendan Smith, Detroit’s netminder misplayed the puck, resulting in a turnover that Florek quickly scooped up and fired into the Wings’ net.
"I was talking with Jimmy (Bedard), he said it flipped up a little bit and just sort of sailed," Howard said. "It’s hockey, it’s a bad break and just unfortunate for us.
"It happens. I don’t think it had anything to do with the outcome of anything. It happened. Got them a little bit rolling in the first period."
Reilly Smith — the younger brother of Detroit defenseman Brendan Smith — put Boston up by two goals just over three minutes later. As the puck slipped between Howard’s legs, Smith stepped behind the goaltender to net his first career playoff goal.
"I think it’s just exciting to score your first playoff goal," Smith said. "And just be able to help your team get a 2-0 lead in the game, I think that’s the biggest factor. You automatically get a bit of a buzz and get a little energy boost off that."
Luke Glendening gave the Wings a boost of their own midway through the second period, when he scored his first Stanley Cup playoff goal to cut Boston’s lead in half. Darren Helm fired a shot that deflected off Glendening’s left glove and past Tuukka Rask.
But the momentum was short-lived, as Milan Lucic restored the Bruins’ two-goal lead five minutes later. He made a drop pass to Jarome Iginla, and received the puck right back to beat Howard.
"It was a good play by Iginla," Howard said. "Notoriously, he’s a shooter and he made a nice pass over to Lucic."
Zdeno Chara netted a goal early in the final period to give the Bruins a 4-1 advantage that would stand as the game’s final score.
"We knew we could have been better than we were last game," Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. "We talked about it. I think that guys did a good job of bringing that energy today."
The Red Wings won’t return to Detroit perfect, but they know how crucial it was to earn one victory in Boston.
"Well, I think you always want to win every game, there’s no doubt about that" Kronwall said. "But at the same time, we got one here, and now we’re heading back to Detroit, looking forward to playing in front of our home crowd.
The two teans will face off in Game 3 at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday at 7:30 EDT.