Bruins get back on track with win over Wings

Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara (33) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal on...

Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara (33) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal on Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) during the third period in Game 2 of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Banknorth Garden. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 1:12 AM ET

BOSTON - In a cruder version of the don’t-poke-the-bear warning that should always be heeded here, Bruins forward Shawn Thornton had his own advice for the Detroit Red Wings.

“I don’t know if anyone wants to (tick) us off,” Thornton said.

The Bruins were plenty ornery on Sunday afternoon at the TD Garden and used it to ultimate effectiveness in a 4-1 thumping of the Wings, a victory that evened the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal at a win apiece.

As playoff opponents have known — and felt — for years now, the Bruins are at their best when belligerent. And when the opposition falls into the trap — especially while on the road — it can be tough to escape alive.

“All of our guys, right from the start of the game, tried to get some good, hard, clean hits and keep that going,” Bruins winger Jarome Iginla said. “It was a good emotional game for us.”

And a crucial victory for the regular-season champion Bruins, who were staring square at the prospect of trailing 2-0 before heading to Detroit for games on Tuesday and Thursday.

Clearly fired up from their lacklustre 1-0 loss on Friday, the Bruins were determined to replace Easter brunch with Easter crunch.

So, there were 33 hits by the boys in black of gold — many of them bone-crushers and many in the first period to set the tone.

For much of the game, there was mayhem in front of Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, who had a much more peaceful existence in his Game 1 shutout.

And there was the fight that never was at the end of the second period when Wings defenceman Brendan Smith briefly toyed with the idea of scrapping with the biggest Bruin of them all, Zdeno Chara. The Big Z laughed in Smith’s face and not a punch was thrown but a message was delivered nonetheless.


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It was physical, intimidating, at-times punishing and returned to the Bruins just in time.

“It should be every night,” Thornton said, emphasizing that the bruising Bruins approach had gone missing in the series opener. “We are aware this time of year that there’s no excuse not to have it. This time of year, we should always have that physical presence going.”

The Wings have more pressing issues than not being sucked into the Bruins style, a task likely to be made easier in the comfort of Joe Louis Arena.

On the one hand, they’ll take returning home with a split. On the other, they’ve managed just two goals in 120 minutes of hockey.

At the top of Detroit coach Mike Babcock’s work order will be steadying his special teams. Not only was the Wings power-play held scoreless on Sunday, it managed just one shot on Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask in almost eight minutes with the man advantage.

The Bruins, meanwhile, counted a pair of power-play goals, including Reilly (brother of Brendan) Smith’s first career playoff score in the first and another by Chara, who parked himself in front of Howard and banged home a loose puck.

Milan Lucic scored the all-important third goal for the Bruins late in the second after the Wings had pulled to within one on Luke Glendening’s deflection. And Lucic did it on a sliced foot that had to be stitched up between periods.

“If we want to have some success moving forward, that urgency has to remain high,” Lucic said.

Speaking of Howard, he’ll be in the spotlight after a rough afternoon that included a giveaway that led directly to the Bruins opener from Justin Florek, 7:28 into the game. Howard left his crease to play the puck and, when it sailed away from him, it ended up on the stick of Florek, who ripped it into the empty net.

If Game 1 was a feeling-out process for both teams and an opportunity for the Wings to dictate the play and Game 2 was vintage Bruins, what lies ahead for Game 3?

“I think it’s important for us to really grasp what we did and really bottle that up and know what it’s going to take to beat this team,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “They’re certainly capable of doing damage if you’re not ready.”

NOT WINGS' STYLE

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock worked well with Bruins counterpart Claude Julien when the latter was his Team Canada assistant at the Sochi Olympics.

But that doesn’t mean he wants his NHL team to play the same way as his Beantown counterpart.

So, after seeing his team lose 4-1 to the Bruins on Sunday afternoon, in a game heavy with post-whistle scrums and shoving, Babcock believes his team failed to stick to its basic plan.

The Wings aren’t built to muck it up and on Sunday were drawn into that style of game.

“I think you’ve just got to decide what you want to do,” Babcock said. “Do you want to play like them or play like us? You’ve got to do what you do, not what they do.

“I thought they were way better. We were ineffective, period.”

Babcock pointed to his team’s four roughing minors — which he said were more than the team had been called for all season — as an example of the distraction.

“I think we’ve got to stay out of the BS out there and just play whistle-to-whistle and not (worry) about proving your manhood,” Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard said. “Just skate and play our hockey.”


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