"I thought we were ready to go in here," Howard said. "You could sense that everyone was focused, and it just didn't happen for us."
The Red Wings were run out of their own building in the first period before losing 3-0 to the Boston Bruins to fall into a 2-1 hole in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series. Game 4 is back at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN, NESN, FS-D).
"We didn't play very well at all," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "We were just running around."
That was due to a toxic combination of the Bruins' relentless puck pursuit and the Red Wings' self-destruction because of unforced errors leading to turnovers as they tried to break out of the defensive zone.
All the energy created by the revved-up, octopus-tossing crowd was gone. The fans booed the Red Wings off the ice after the first period.
"I didn't think we necessarily gave ourselves a fair chance," Kronwall said.
Hamilton scored at 9:00 with a sneaky snap shot into the top right corner after a 150-foot solo rush up the ice. It came on the power play after the Red Wings were guilty of having too many men on the ice 80 seconds earlier.
Caron scored on a rebound after the Red Wings gave the puck away and compounded the issue by making an ill-timed line change.
"It's tough going into a 2-0 hole in the first like that," Detroit defenseman Danny DeKeyser said. "We put ourselves in a bad position. They make it hard to score goals, and we know that. We put ourselves in a really tough position in the first period."
That's what irks coach Mike Babcock the most. He could barely recognize his team in the first period. He wasn't even sure where to put the blame either.
"I don't think there is ever anything wrong with losing when you maximize your group and did everything you can," Babcock said. "That's why [Detroit's performance] is disappointing for me. We've been a way better team than that. That's unacceptable, and that's not taking anything away from the Bruins."