NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, April 20th (All times Eastern)
Detroit Red Wings (1-0) at Boston Bruins (0-1), 3 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The first playoff meeting between the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings since 1957 was short on scoring, but it certainly didn't lack for drama or controversy.
After surprising the top-seeded Bruins with a 1-0 win in Game 1, the Red Wings hope to grab an early 2-0 lead when the Original Six rivals continue the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Sunday afternoon in Boston.
Pavel Datsyuk's pretty goal with 3:01 to play was the first and only marker of the game. The Russian superstar's great individual effort stood up for the win thanks in part to the play of Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard, who outdueled Boston's Tuukka Rask with a 25-save shutout victory. Rask stopped 23-of-24 shots to take the loss.
Detroit entered this best-of-seven series as the second of two wild cards in the East and figured to face a tall task in playing the Presidents' Trophy- winning Bruins on the road in Games 1 and 2. However, with a win in the opener, the Red Wings, who are making a 23rd straight appearance in the postseason, managed to snatch home-ice advantage away from the defending Eastern Conference champions.
"Obviously you want to get in and you want to establish yourself in the series especially when you're the lower seed," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock. "Sometimes when the upper seed gets the upper hand right away you start questioning whether you're good enough. We know we're good enough but it's one thing to know you're good enough and another thing to show you're good enough."
After both teams went scoreless through two periods, Datsyuk finally recorded a goal late in the third period.
Shortly after Howard kept Boston off the board with a tough stop on a Milan Lucic tip down low, the Red Wings took the puck the other way and let Datsyuk do what he does best.
Johan Franzen picked up the puck in his own zone and was able to push it towards Datsyuk, who reached behind to pull the puck forward and skate into the zone down the right side. Skating towards the middle and approaching the left circle, Datsyuk used a screen to send a low wrister that went under the glove of Rask and into the right side of the net for his 37th career playoff goal.
"It was a great play and I've seen a lot of those over the years," said Bruins forward Jarome Iginla of Datsyuk's goal. "Many guys have seen the highlights but I've seen them up close. He doesn't need that many opportunities and he made a great play there."
Of course, dropping Game 1 on home ice is never a good thing, but Boston, which has made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in two of the past three seasons, is no stranger to facing adversity in the first round.
Boston has gone the distance in the opening round in each of the past three seasons. In fact, the Bruins blew a 3-1 series lead against Toronto last spring in the conference quarterfinals and needed to overcome a 4-1 third- period deficit in Game 7 just to get past the Maple Leafs.
The Bruins also beat Montreal four games to three in 2011 en route to its first Stanley Cup title since 1972, but lost in seven the following season against Washington.
"There weren't any secrets in tonight's game. Both teams played tight...don't think there was any surprise out there today," said Boston head coach Claude Julien. "Everybody's got to find a way to create more, and that's going to be the challenge in this series."
While Datsyuk provided the late-game dramatics for Detroit, Lucic was the center of controversy for the Bruins. Late in the second period, Lucic speared Danny DeKeyser in the groin, whacking the Red Wings defenseman from behind with his stick.
No penalty was called on the play but Lucic was fined $5,000 by the league on Saturday. Although Detroit had the NHL's fourth-fewest penalty minutes (725) during the 2013-14 regular season, all eyes will be on Lucic in Game 2 to see if the Red Wings try to retaliate for the dirty play.
Lucic also was caught by cameras pulling a similar stunt against Montreal's Alexei Emelin back in March, but Boston's power forward says it's not going to become a habit.
"Obviously, it was kind of the heat-of-the-moment thing when you're not thinking when you do something like that," Lucic told reporters after practice on Saturday. "I've been in the league for seven years now and I think I've only done that three times. I don't know why I did it, but it was the heat-of- the-moment things that unfortunately I did. I believe in playing within the rules and, for me, I definitely won't be heading down that road again."
This series is the first playoff meeting between the Bruins and Red Wings since the 1957 Stanley Cup semifinals. The clubs, of course, spent decades playing in opposite conferences before Detroit moved to the East as part of the NHL's realignment plan for the 2013-14 season.
Game 3 of this series is scheduled for Tuesday in Detroit. The Red Wings also will host Game 4 on Thursday.
04/20 10:27:46 ET