Jarome Iginla would be the hero, scoring at 13:32 into overtime to complete the 3-2 comeback in Detroit. The Bruins scored three unanswered goals after falling down 2-0.
The veteran donned the Old-Time Hockey Player of the Game Jacket following the win, passed on from Dougie Hamilton, who happened to fire the shot that he tipped for the OT-winner.
"It's pretty self explanatory who gets it, and I thought he had a lot of chances all game," Hamilton said, from the visiting team locker room at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday night. "That line was fun to play with as a defenseman tonight, so nice they got rewarded for it."
With seven minutes gone in overtime, Iginla, along with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, put in the work. The defense tandem of Hamilton and Zdeno Chara watched their every move from the points.
Krejci battled with Niklas Kronwall along the boards. Iginla joined in, battling with Drew Miller, came up with the puck, and sent a touch pass to Lucic posted up in the left circle. Lucic pushed the puck into Krejci's sphere, and the centerman found Hamilton cross-ice at the right point.
The defenseman bought a second, and fired a low shot that bounced, connected with Iginla's stick, hit Detroit defenseman Danny DeKeyser's leg, and found the back of the net.
Hamilton jumped into Lucic's arms, after the forward untangled himself from the battle with DeKeyser in front. Iginla's arms flew up. The rest of the Bruins all jumped off the bench and into a huddle.
The Black & Gold were flying back to Boston with a 3-1 series lead. Happy travels.
"I thought we had a little bit of zone time there, some plays, some rotations, some corner battles," said Iginla. "I think Krech made a nice pass over to Dougie, and I was just going to the net."
"Pretty fortunate goal, fortunate bounce. An ugly one, but that seems to be how a lot of those are in OT."
"It felt great as a team, because it was a tough game. They played well but we stuck with it. I thought from the third period on, we started getting better and getting more consistent chances, and nice to get that last bounce."
"We talked about it in intermission, saying just get pucks on net, anything can happen, so I think you see that with a lot of overtime goals," said Hamilton. "So it's just about getting the puck on net, and that's what happens."
The win might not have happened, though, if Tuukka Rask hadn't gotten his stick on a breakaway from Justin Abdelkader just 51 seconds into OT.
"He’s been so good. He’s good, he’s calm, he’s composed and he’s just been a great asset to us - and he’s been like that all year," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien.
"He was able to keep us in when we needed him to keep us in."
The Bruins found themselves trailing 2-0 in the second period, after goals from Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk.
Boston had been outshot 15-5 in the first. The Red Wings were reeling from the start, for a number of reasons. They had come out with a slow start the previous game, in which they were shutout 3-0 in their home building. On top of that, they had their captain Henrik Zetterberg back in the lineup for the first time in two and a half months.
As a result, Boston couldn't get into the groove. Kronwall blasted one through traffic just four seconds into the power play at 11:00 into the first. Then, Datsyuk found the loose puck and put it past Rask at 4:27 into the second.
But the netminder's real work was in the opening frame. The game could have gotten away from the Bruins in a hurry.
"Our experience helps a lot and I think they started out hard and had a lot of jump and energy," said Hamilton. "Obviously Tuukka played awesome, at the start especially, and I thought we did a good job turning the tide on them a little bit and getting the puck in deep and forechecking them harder."
Midway through the second period, a power play for the Wings was essentially negated and the Bruins got 13 seconds of power-play time. They made the most of it.
After Patrice Bergeron won the faceoff, Torey Krug fired it in through traffic to make it a one-goal game. "Let's go boys!" was the simple message from Bergeron to his teammates as he followed Krug through the goal celebration line past the bench.
"It was a bit ugly at times, but then we just got our stuff together and got going," said Rask, who made 35 saves on the night. "So it’s just one of those things that we have a lot of character in this room and once we get going, we can come from a deficit, but it just has to happen."
Krug started off the comeback, and Lucic tied it up, 2-2, just 1:15 into the third period.
Hamilton started the breakout, skating out of trouble, and hitting Lucic with the first pass. The winger powered in, fed Carl Soderberg - on the ice after a line change - who drove behind the net, and centered the puck for Lucic to cash in from the top of the crease.
"I just told our guys we had to get back to our game and puck management’s a big part of our game and we’ve got some big guys that can hang onto the puck a little bit more than we did in the first period," said Julien.
"That’s all I told our guys - that it wasn’t about the emotions or anything else, more than getting back to our game."
The talk after the first, after the second, and then after the third, was positive.
"These guys have been through it before in here and we have some great leadership guys stepping up, and just saying to remain calm and just work for that goal before they get No. 3 and we were able to do that and fight our way back into it," said Iginla. "And it always feels awesome to be on the winning side of an OT game."
Brad Marchand nearly lifted the Bruins to their 3-2 win with less than ten minutes left in the third period. His fire went just wide, marking his second open net of the night, as Jonas Gustavsson (a last-minute add for the Wings, with Jimmy Howard sidelined by the flu) was out of his crease. Afterwards, Marchand couldn't stop shaking his head on the bench.
"It was definitely frustrating, especially after the second one more than the first one, but you can’t do anything about it so you don’t want to dwell on it too much," said Marchand, whose teammates came up to him during the ensuing timeout to offer encouragement. "You want to stick with it and stay positive and worry about getting the next one."
He was no doubt happy to see Iginla net the overtime winner.
"Iggy’s been playing great - he had a few really good opportunities tonight and it was great to see him rewarded," said Marchand.
"I think I gave him a huge kiss there. It was great to have him score that goal," he later smiled. "Definitely, I’ll be able to sleep good tonight and glad that we won."
With a 3-1 series lead, the Bruins now have an opportunity finish off the series on Saturday at TD Garden.
"All of the games have been pretty close and tonight was the toughest win of the series, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be," said Iginla. "As it goes on, each team gets a little more desperate and they were very desperate."
"They had a great push in the first half and I thought we had the second half, and being up now, we want to close it out."