Boston’s 3-0 shutout of Detroit in Game 3 on Tuesday was a near perfect road victory in the NHL playoffs. The Bruins used timely scoring, outstanding team defense and goaltending by Tuukka Rask (23 saves in his fourth career postseason shutout) to take a 2-1 series lead over the Red Wings. They regained the home ice advantage that they lost in Game 1 and picked up their second straight win while setting up a vital Game 4 on Thursday (8 p.m., NESN). So far in the series, Boston has outscored Detroit, 7-2, including a 7-1 mark over Games 2 and 3.
Rask will get the lion’s share of the credit, not a stunning thing for a player that should win the Vezina trophy. But hockey is a team game and when Boston is playing well, it gets contributions from everyone.
“That’s part of our defensive game,” said B’s head coach Claude Julien. “We have a lot of trust in each other and guys aren’t afraid to block shots. To be good defensively, you have to have to a team commitment.”
Rask has been the single most dominant player in the first three games as the Red Wings have only beaten him twice. Once he was screened on Pavel Datsyuk’s shot, and the other came off of Luke Glendening’s body. Rask didn’t have to do too much heavy lifting in Game 3, except for a highlight reel stop on Justin Abdelkader in the third period when Detroit was trying to cut it to 2-1. He’s stopped 82-of-84 shots for an absurd goals against average of 0.67. The Red Wings had 24 shots on goal in Game 1 and 23 in Game 3. To have any chance to win this series, they need to get way more pucks on net and traffic in front of Rask, otherwise this will be over soon.
Another remarkable stat for the Bruins is that all seven of their goals have been scored by different players and four of those were the first of that particular player’s postseason career (Justin Florek, Reilly Smith, Dougie Hamilton and Jordan Caron). Rermakably, Jarome Iginla, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Carl Soderberg, Loui Eriksson and Torey Krug – among others – have yet to find the back of the net for Boston. That has to be scary for the Red Wings since you know that won’t hold for much longer.
Finally, the B’s have extra incentive to eliminate Detroit as fast as possible since Montreal swept Tampa Bay on Tuesday and now the Canadiens await the winner of Boston-Detroit. The soonest this series could end is Saturday and the latest would be a Game 7 next Wednesday.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate