Bruins roar back to beat Red Wings in Game 4

Boston Bruins right wing Jarome Iginla (left) is congratulated by teammates after scoring the...

Boston Bruins right wing Jarome Iginla (left) is congratulated by teammates after scoring the game-winning overtime goal against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, April 24, 2014. (RICK OSENTOSKI/USA Today)

Rob Longley, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:50 AM ET

DETROIT - On Thursday night, they withstood the body blow. Now the Boston Bruins are looking to find the knockout punch.

No more unnecessary trips to a Game 7 if they could help it and no reprise of the major scare the Toronto Maple Leafs put in them last spring.

So on a night in which the youthful, overmatched Red Wings offered their best shot, the Bruins scored a 3-2 overtime win at Joe Louis Arena and showed the will and strength of a team committed to making a long playoff run this spring.

Jarome Iginla’s deflection at 13:32 of overtime gave the B’s a 3-1 stranglehold on the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal. The Bruins can wrap it up with a win at home on Saturday and move on to face the Montreal Canadiens in the next round.

“We were in this position last year, same thing,” said Bruins winger Milan Lucic, who scored the third-period goal that forced overtime and provided some of the muscle in front of the net on the game winner. “We won Game 4 in Toronto and we all know what happened after that.

“So we’re not taking anything for granted here. We all know how hard it is to close out a series, and we all know how desperate they’re going to be heading into Saturday.”

Leafs fans across Canada are well aware of what happened to the Bruins and the historic rally from a 4-1 deficit in Game 7. While they ultimately learned and gained strength from that miracle — making it to the Stanley Cup final — they have no intention of taking such chances with the Wings.

That first-things-first attitude the Bruins seem to be embracing has served them well so far in these playoffs. In Game 1, they were a little off and lost 1-0, a result that could have given the upstart, upset-minded Red Wings some juice.

Instead, Boston put forth dominating efforts with wins in Games 2 and 3 to regain control. On Thursday, they had to withstand the emotion the Wings brought with the return of captain Henrik Zetterberg and a powerful first period that had the Joe rocking.

But despite trailing 2-0 at 4:27 of the second period, the Bruins stuck to the plan, eventually getting on the board midway through regulation when a blast from the point from Michigan native Torey Krug found the back of the net.

From then on — and thanks to some timely saves from a superb Tuukka Rask — the Bruins seized control. The game never would have reached overtime had Brad Marchand buried either of his two ridiculously easy opportunities at open nets or a Lucic shot late in the game not rung off the post.

The Wings knew it, too. By the midway point of overtime, they were being outshot 9-2 and a lucky bounce would be their only opportunity to square the series at two wins apiece.

“I thought they got better as the game went on,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “They stuck with it and, as the game went on, we had more holes in us defensively.”

While the Bruins will never acknowledge it at this point — to do so would be to diss the Red Wings — there is some urgency to wrap the series up quickly. With the Habs resting after their sweep of Tampa Bay, this would be a good spring to avoid a seven-game first round, a trap the Bruins have found themselves in for three years running.

As the game went on, though, the Bruins could sense the shift in momentum and frustration seeping into the Wings’ game. Zetterberg was solid, but offered what you would expect from a player making his first start in months — in other words, he was out of gas by the third.

The Wings also had a late surprise when Jimmy Howard came up sick in the pre-game warmups and was replaced in net by Jonas Gustavsson, who made his first career NHL playoff start. Gustavsson was solid enough — the open nets offered up to Marchand notwithstanding.

But as has happened in the previous two games, the Bruins patiently and forcefully exerted their will on a team that is an inferior opponent in too many areas.

“I don’t know if they were out of energy or got a little discouraged that they couldn’t score on Tuukka,” said Boston defenceman Dougie Hamilton, whose point shot earned him an assist on the game winner.

“For us, we just stayed focused. We’ve got some good leaders on our team and just kept talking and remaining positive.

“It was just a matter of sticking with it and doing the things we do best.”

Unfortunately for the Red Wings, that list is a long one.

WINGS CAN'T GET IT DONE

It was a night for Red Wings coach Mike Babcock to pull out all the stops, not that he had enough to counter the Boston Bruins.

With the return of captain Henrik Zetterberg providing the expected emotional surge, the Wings played hard for their captain early.

But when the big Swede started to fade in his first game back since having back surgery after one game at the Sochi Olympics, the Wings began to fade.

“We knew that would probably be the case,” Babcock said. “As the game went on, I didn’t think we were as dangerous.”

Zetterberg logged 29 shifts and 19 minutes and 34 seconds of ice time and certainly had all around him fired up.

The Bruins knew it was coming, though, and after getting a win in what was the Wings' best effort so far, now they can smell blood.

“You don’t want to do anything to give the other team life in a series,” Milan Lucic said. “We were able to recapture the emotion and get momentum back on our side.”

rob.longley@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @LongleySunSport


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