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Bruins shoot for 3-1 series lead in Detroit
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Boston Bruins will try to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Thursday, as they shoot for a third straight victory over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 4 at Joe Louis Arena.
Boston lost the opener of this best-of-seven series on home ice by a 1-0 score, but the Presidents' Trophy winners outscored Detroit by a combined 7-1 margin in taking both Games 2 and 3 in convincing fashion.
Detroit, however, could get a boost in Game 4 with the possible return of captain Henrik Zetterberg. The Swedish forward has been sidelined since undergoing back surgery on Feb. 21, but he returned to practice earlier this week and could be activated before this evening's game.
"The good thing is it's not in my corner. I've got to be cleared by the doctor," said Zetterberg, who practiced on a line with Justin Abdelkader and Todd Bertuzzi at Wednesday's practice.
Despite playing in on only 45 games this season, Zetterberg was only one point behind Daniel Alfredsson and Niklas Kronwall for Detroit's scoring lead. Zetterberg recorded 48 points on 16 goals and 32 assists in 2013-14 and has notched 114 points (55 goals, 59 assists) over 123 career playoff games.
After notching a 4-1 home win in Sunday's Game 2, Boston hit the road to record Tuesday's 3-0 triumph in the Motor City. If the Bruins can pick up another win tonight in Detroit they would have a chance to win the series on home ice in Saturday's Game 5.
Tuukka Rask made 23 saves to record his fourth career shutout in the playoffs for the Bruins, who outshot Detroit 11-4 in the first period and 34-23 in the game.
"It's really good team defense," said Rask. "I don't think we've given them that many scoring chances. Today, they had four shots for a long time in the game. They had the power plays and a couple of shots and got the momentum there, but we were good at limiting their scoring chances."
Dougie Hamilton, Jordan Caron and Patrice Bergeron scored for Boston, which won at Joe Louis Arena for the first time since March 11, 2007, halting a four-game slide in Motown.
Tuesday's test also was the first playoff meeting between the Bruins and Red Wings in Detroit since April 4, 1957. Boston also beat the Wings in that meeting over a half-century ago to win the Stanley Cup semifinals in five games.
Jimmy Howard stopped 31-of-33 shots for the Red Wings on Tuesday.
Detroit went 0-for-3 on the power play in the Game 3 loss and has failed to score on all nine of its chances with the man advantage in this series.
"I don't think there's ever anything wrong with losing when you maximize your group and did everything you could," said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. "That's why that's disappointing to me. We've been a way better team than that. That's unacceptable. And that's not taking away anything from the Bruins."
The Red Wings played Tuesday without Alfredsson, who is dealing with an upper- body injury and is questionable for Game 4. The 41-year-old forward had no points over the first two games in this playoff series, his first for a team other than the Ottawa Senators.
Alfredsson had 100 points (51 goals, 49 assists) in 123 postseason games with the Sens, who he had spent his entire NHL career with before signing with Detroit last summer.
Joakim Andersson replaced Alfredsson in the lineup for Game 3. He was minus-1 with no shots on goal in 8 minutes, 17 seconds of ice time.
Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski returned to the lineup in Game 3 after missing the first two games due to illness. Bartkowski failed to reach the scoresheet, but he did eat up 18:34 of ice time for Boston head coach Claude Julien.
04/24 10:59:23 ET