DETROIT – The Bruins knocked the Red Wings out of the 2014 playoffs more than five months ago, but tonight’s preseason matchup picked up right where the postseason series left off.
A physical battle ensued in the first period of action as Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara was the center of Red Wings’ attention. Just eight minutes into the contest, forward Mitch Callahan found himself in a tussle with the 6-foot-9 Chara as the two exited the Wings’ offensive zone. The incident eerily resembled last season’s standoff between Chara and defenseman Brendan Smith during the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
The Wings had five power-play opportunities during the game of which the 5-on-3 man-advantage in the first period may have been their best chance. Two Bruins forwards were called for separate minor penalties – Milan Lucic for slashing and Chris Kelly for kneeing – eight minutes into the first period. The opportunity was squandered with not one but two broken sticks just 90 seconds apart. Smith broke his stick on a slap shot from the blue line and center Stephen Weiss broke his moments later after a centering pass from Teemu Pulkkinen.
“Why do they break all the time?” coach Mike Babcock asked. “Well if you want to use wood. They won’t, nobody wants to use wood.”
The all-Swede first line of Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Gustav Nyquist was the best combination on the ice for either side. The group combined for seven shots on goal and while they may not have anything to show for their efforts on the scoreboard, the opportunities were apparent and they came in bunches. Franzen had two quality chances on same shift 15 minutes into the contest, the best being a one-timer from the slot on a tic-tac-toe feed from Nyquist and defenseman Jakub Kindl.
“Yeah, I thought they were good,” Babcock said. “We gotta score on the power play, we can’t just get chances, though. You gotta finish on the power play, I mean Kronner (Niklas Kronwall) is a big part of our power play, he’s not playing with this team. It’s a part of it. I thought those guys skated the best they’ve skated all camp tonight.”
After a scoreless first period, the Bruins struck first when Dougie Hamilton split Red Wings defensemen Mattias Backman and Brian Lashoff with a forehand to backhand deke and finished with a shot that went between goalie Jonas Gustafsson’s legs. Boston took the lead 16:32 remaining in the second period.
Shortly after, a parade of bodies went to the penalty box, starting with Bruins forward Jared Knight getting called for goaltender interference just seconds after the goal. The next seven minutes saw both teams combine for 10 minutes in minor penalties.
The streak of penalties ended shortly after rookie forward Landon Ferraro scored short-handed on a wrist shot from the left faceoff dot, beating Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask. During a 2-on-1 offensive rush, forward Mitch Callahan streamed down the slot as Ferraro fired a shot that Rask deflected with his left shoulder, the puck knuckled through the air and fell into the net before Rask could recover. Ferraro tied the game up with 8:28 remaining in the second period.
“I just got down the ice and the D didn’t slide over so I just tried to get it as hard to the net and I don’t know if it went off his shoulder or glove and kind of up and over,” Ferraro said. “It was a little lucky but I’m happy to take that.”
The Bruins provided plenty of chances for the Wings to practice their re-tooled power play and the Swedish trio lead the charge. Zetterberg’s line spent 6 ½ minutes of their night on the power play but were unable to make good on the man-advantage.
“I really like what we’re doing,” Babcock said. “I think Jim Hiller has got great ideas. I think we adjust, I like how we go from one to another. I’d like to see the 5-on-3, (we) worked on it this morning. Didn’t get any results but that’s all part of it.”
Former Red Wings forward Ville Leino broke the 1-1 tie with just under five minutes remaining in regulation, scoring on a long rebound off of Hamilton’s slap shot from the blue line.
Brad Marchand added an empty-net goal with 45 seconds left to give the Bruins their two-goal margin.
The two teams will face off once more in the preseason next Saturday before they compete on opening night of the regular season on Oct. 9.
INJURED WINGS: Nyquist limped to the bench with a right leg injury with under two minutes left in regulation and did not return. General manager Ken Holland said the team will re-evaluate him tomorrow.
REASSIGNED WINGS: Forward Marek Tvrdon and goaltenders Jared Coreau and Jake Paterson were reassigned to Grand Rapids. Forward Tyler Barnes and defenseman Brennan Evans and Nathan Paetsch have been released from their tryouts.