The Bruins had their chance to complete an epic trilogy of comebacks by Boston sports teams this long holiday weekend but unlike the Patriots and Red Sox before them, the B’s (3-2-0) came up short as they lost, 3-2, to the Red Wings (4-2-0) Monday at TD Garden. Milan Lucic scored on a backhander with 1:20 left in regulation but the Red Wings were able to hold off the Bruins, who pulled Tuukka Rask (24 saves) for the extra attacker.
“We’re struggling to finish,” admitted Bruins head coach Claude Julien whose team has only scored eight goals in its first five games. “We kept fanning on shots or shooting over the net.”
With more rest coming into this matchup, Detroit looked like a different club than the tired bunch that lost 4-1 here on Oct. 5.
“We know that they’re a great team,” said Bruins winger Brad Marchand. “They have a really good system, that’s why they go deep in the playoffs every year.”
Starting goaltender Jimmy Howard was a last-minute scratch but his backup Jonas Gustavsson (28 saves) played well enough to earn the first star of the game in his first appearance of the season. Detroit got on the board first as Henrik Zetterberg one-timed a backhand pass from his similarly electrifying teammate Pavel Datsyuk 11:33 into the contest. Loui Eriksson tied it a few minutes later, tipping in a shot from the point by Johnny Boychuk for his second goal in as many games.
A pair of goals 1:20 apart in the second period gave the Red Wings a commanding 3-1 lead, it was the first time this season that the B’s had trailed by two goals or more. The turning point of the game was early in the third period as Detroit had to kill a 5-on-3 for 1:54. Boston put plenty of pressure on Gustavsson but he held tough and the Bruins weren’t able to break though for what could have been a momentum turning goal. It helped that Detroit blocked a whopping 22 shots, many when they were shorthanded. Bruins defenseman Torey Krug explained that his team has to “get more pucks to the net. They did a good job of clogging up the shooting lanes and not giving us much space.”
While the circus inhabits the Garden, Boston hits the road for its next three games: at Florida on Thursday, at Tampa Bay on Saturday and at Buffalo next Wednesday. Their next home game isn’t until Oct. 24 vs. San Jose.
What they’ll be saying: Another subpar performance by the Bruins power play (0-for-5, now 2-for-19 on the season with both goals coming vs. Detroit last time) is the easy thing to point to for the main reason why they lost to the Red Wings. After all, Detroit didn’t have any power plays. Jarome Iginla is due for a goal at some point. He had a team-high five shots, four hits and played 21:13 (2nd for Boston forwards behind David Krejci). Look for him to break out of his five-game drought on this road trip; the Panthers and Sabres might be the two worst teams in the NHL so the Bruins should be excited to face them. Matt Bartkowski played his second straight game and Julien said it was a better performance than Saturday in Columbus which is understandable since he was a healthy scratch the first three games. Nobody on the Bruins had a better weekend than Eriksson who went from no goals to two goals in the span of two games. Zdeno Chara had a rare poor game with a game-low -2 vs. Detroit. Expect mysterious Chad Johnson to make his first start either vs. Florida or Buffalo.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat reporter Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate