DETROIT -- Even without two-thirds of their top line, the Detroit Red Wings looked like themselves again Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena.
Playing without Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi, Detroit defeated the Boston Bruins 6-1 thanks in large part to three quick goals scored in the first half of the second period.
"We work pretty hard most nights, [but tonight] we were rewarded," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "We had puck luck and got some energy and got going. I think that was the biggest thing. We've played lots of good games this year; we haven't won lots of games. That's the fact, because we never score."
They scored plenty in this game.
Jonas Gustavsson (16 saves) upped his record to 6-0-1 in his seventh start of the season and second victory against Boston, but the bigger story was the all-round effort in front of him. The Red Wings stifled the Bruins' attack, and the scoring struggle that's plagued the team all season disappeared.
Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall assisted on each other's goals in the second, Johan Franzen had three assists, and Detroit got two-point games from Tomas Tatar (goal and assist), Gustav Nyquist (goal and assist) and Joakim Andersson (two assists).
"It's nice to score goals, but tonight I think we had way better legs than Boston," Zetterberg said. "The other two games we've played against [the Bruins] have been tough games, and that's what happens sometimes in this League. Sometimes you don't have the legs and it's tough to play."
Jarome Iginla scored late in the third period for the Bruins (16-7-2), long after the Red Wings had pulled away.
Justin Abdelkader and Drew Miller also scored for the Red Wings (12-7-7), who won their second game in a row for the first time since Oct. 30 through Nov. 2, when they defeated the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers to start a four-game trip to Western Canada.
Since that trio of games, the Red Wings went through a seven-game winless skid they're hoping to erase with the next stretch of the schedule. They're off to a good start, with two straight victories minus Datsyuk (concussion protocol) and Bertuzzi (upper body).
The contributions from young, skilled players Tatar and Nyquist are a big reason. Neither started the season with Detroit, and Nyquist played his fourth game since being recalled from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League.
"They've made us way better," Babcock said. "Nyquist has come and given us another real good player, so that we'd have a better team since he's here."
It was a completely different story in the visitors dressing room. It was the Bruins' worst loss thus far. They were outskated, outshot (28-17) and generally outplayed after Abdelkader made it 1-0 at 11:49 of the first period.
They also were the recipient of some bad bounces on a night when their effort was epitomized by Milan Lucic colliding with linemate Iginla in the second period.
"Everything we did tonight was just disastrous," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "We need to show more determination toward the net than we did. Right now, we're [settling for] a lot of perimeter stuff and criss-crossing, and that's why you see guys running into each other."
Tuukka Rask lost for the Bruins, who came into the game off a pair of overtime victories and were 8-1-1 in their previous 10. It was Boston's second loss to Detroit, its new Atlantic Division rival, in three games. They don't play again until the Bruins come to Joe Louis Arena on April 2.
"We let them skate and let them have some easy passes," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. "Obviously [it's] a wake-up call."
The Bruins did get some good news after warm-ups when defenseman Adam McQuaid was given the green light to return from a lower-body injury that kept him out for eight games.
That was tempered by his elbowing minor midway through the second period. It led to a power-play goal that made it 4-0 Detroit after Franzen slid a perfect feed through the legs of a Bruins defender and hit Kronwall in stride for a quick redirect into the net. The puck actually skipped off Rask's blocker into the top left corner for his third goal of the season and second in the past four games.
Kronwall's goal came 1:15 after Zetterberg made it 3-0 by one-timing a low-to-high pass from Nyquist off Rask's left shoulder into the top right corner for his first goal since Nov. 9 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nearly three minutes before that one, at 6:05 of the second, Tatar gave the Red Wings a 2-0 lead by collecting the puck at center ice and zipping through the Boston defense to tuck a beautiful wraparound past Rask's right skate blade.
"It's been some time since I scored the last one, so this is a relief," said Tatar, who hadn't scored since Nov. 2 against the Oilers. "I had some huge opportunities before in games but just couldn't put it in, so I was mad ... now I'm really happy it went in, especially that we [got] the win against the Bruins. This is huge for us."
Three goals scored in four minutes, and just like that, the Red Wings had their long lost offense back. It started in the first when Abdelkader made it 1-0 by beating Loui Eriksson to a loose puck in front of the crease and burying it into the open back side of the net.
It was Abdelkader's first goal since Nov. 1 against the Flames and came 11 seconds after Franzen was let out of the penalty box. Prior to that goal, the Bruins had a couple of good chances to strike first. Instead, they squandered two power plays and quickly lost steam that was never regained.
The Red Wings continued to push in the third, with Gustavsson making a nice stop early to keep the Bruins scoreless, and Miller making it 5-0 at 8:38 with his first goal since Oct. 26, smacking a shot from close range that trickled through Rask's pads. Nyquist made it 6-0 before Iginla finally beat Gustavsson to get the Bruins on the board.
"We didn't come here to lose 6-1 or whatever the score was," said Bruins forward Reilly Smith, whose hit in the third briefly sent his older brother, Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith, to the bench in apparent pain. "It's embarrassing for our team, and we have to come out next game and show that we've got a short memory and bounce back from it."