After dropping the first game at home, the Bruins have had the look of a team on a mission the last two games. After a 4-1 win to save the split at TD Garden, Boston once again came out flying, this time on Detroit's turf, with first period goals from Dougie Hamilton and Jordan Caron(!) spoiling the Red Wings home coming. While Detroit again surged, much like in Game 2, the Bruins defense--teamwide, not just the blueliners--around Tuukka Rask and in the neutral zone shut down much of Detroit's speedy attack, and held the Wings to 23 SOG.
This marks the second straight convincing performance by the B's, who had help from the return of Matt Bartkowski, in for Andrej Meszaros, and another stellar game from Zdeno Chara and co. on the back end. Not to be forgotten, Rask was solid in stopping every shot Detroit managed to get through on him. Patrice Bergeron scored an empty netter from the defensive slot (of course he did) to round out the scoring.
- I know the Bruins have got some very good defensive games in the first three games of the series, up and down the roster, but it starts with Tuukka Rask. The Bruins netminder has been spectacular, stopping all but two shots in three games, good for a .976 SV%.
- Dougie Hamilton's end-to-end rush on the Power Play put the exclamation point on what's been a good series for the ginger, as he managed to carry the puck into the zone past some somewhat aimless Detroit defenders, and go short side on Jimmy Howard. Teach me how to Dougie and all that.
- Merlot might not be the line that the non-local broadcasts crack it up to be, but credit where credit is due. Shawn Thornton pulled a move that arguably in the same league as his beautiful goal as the Florida Panthers earlier this year, and the play finished with a hard net crash from Jordan Caron. Caron, who had 3 points in 35 games in the regular season, added his name to the list of unlikely playoff performers. Crash the net, good things happen, and congratulations to Caron on his first postseason goal!
- Can we just give a star to practically all the Bruins for how badly the Wings were shut down through the middle of the ice? Boston outshot Detroit 34-23 in a game that they lead practically the whole way. The Fenwicks and Corsis told a similar story. Take your score effects and shove 'em. Zdeno Chara had a particularly nice adjustment to deny David Legwand in the early third period.
- Particularly nice to see the Bruins come out on top in the possession battle, as, while small sample sizes should be taken with a grain of salt, that reversed the trend of recent games. And yeah, I know possession is only around half the battle, and certainly not the law, but 5-on-5 dominant Hockey, which Boston played tonight, is very Boston Bruinsy.
- Interestingly enough, a lot of that edge came from a solid game from Merlot, and Carl Soderberg's line, as Justin Florek tied with Dougie Hamilton for the lead in CF%. I wouldn't say that the Bruins big guns had a bad game--they were defensively responsible, for sure--but it's nice to see the role players taking the wheel a bit. And I don't know about you, but I'm liking Florek's game more with every shift.
- The Bruins mostly avoided bad penalties until they had a bit of a strangehold on this one, and when Marchand and Miller took some pretty questionable ones, the PK stepped up. During Marchand's penalty, the Bruins were whistled for Too Much Man, which you knew was happening sooner or later with a Bruins playoff team. The resulting 5-on-3 was killed entirely by Patrice Bergeron's calm stare. No, but seriously, it can't be emphasized enough that the Wings inability to convert on those penalties was a turning point in Game 3. Boston's PK is a perfect 100% on the series.
- Cephalopods were kept under coats for the majority of the game, and ended up have no purpose. Those things smell kind of terrible.
- Brendan Smith had a kind of questionable hit on Brad Marchand. My personal take is that it was a pretty clear leg-on-leg trip, but the hit wasn't suspension-worthy. Who the heck really knows. I'm sure Steph will have the GIF for you all at some point. But anyway, some people thought Marchand milked the call. DJ Bean of WEEI.com asked him about that:
To clarify on Marchand: Smith hit his left leg, but Marchand landed on/twisted his right knee. That's why he was grabbing it. #Bruins— DJ Bean (@DJ_Bean) April 23, 2014
- Again, take this with a grain of salt, because the Wings didn't look that dangerous from a post or two (the Bruins rang iron two or three times as well), but Babcock's line matching with Julien's team did free up Nyquist's line to win their possession battle. Means little right now, but it's something to keep an eye on.
- Sorry to beat this into the ground, but this was the first Bruins win in Detroit since 2007. This team is damn good, no matter where they're playing.
- Mike Babcock had a gem of a press conference, including saying that the Wings "looked like boys out there." I'm paraphrasing.
- Chara and Boychuk were 1-2 on TOI on D, then Miller, then Bartkowski and Krug, then Hamilton. I present this information without judgment -- keep in mind we have no idea who's nursing flu symptoms or who has the Ryan Spooner plague.
- The Montreal Canadiens finished their series tonight, so they're twiddling their thumbs 'til this series ends. You know what must be done, Bruins.
- The Bruins seem to be able to beat the Red Wings without suckering them into silliness. I, for one, am not exactly shocked. Here's hoping for more of the same!
With the victory, Boston retakes home ice advantage going into the second game in Detroit, on Thursday, with a 2-1 series lead.