DETROIT -- Despite a 50-point difference in the standings, the Red Wings defeated the NHL's top team, the 80-point Boston Bruins, 3-1, Sunday afternoon before a festive crowd at Little Caesars Arena.
It was the Wings' second consecutive win against the Bruins this season and the Detroiters' fifth-straight victory over the B's, making it the Red Wings' longest win streak against Boston since a nine-game run which spanned Dec. 18, 1992-Dec. 22, 1997.
The Red Wings played a solid all-around game with their penalty kill being the difference as the Bruins were 0-for-4 with the man-advantage, including a lengthy 5-on-3 in the first period.
Jonathan Bernier (12-14-2) continued his excellent play in goal for the Red Wings, stopping 39 of the 40 shots he faced for a save percentage of .975.
Tuukka Rask (20-5-6) took the loss for the Bruins. Jaroslav Halak was originally supposed to start but did not feel well so Rask had to play both halves of the back-to-back set.
Brendan Perlini scored his first goal with the Red Wings and Andreas Athanasiou notched two (power play and empty net) for the Wings.
Livonia native and former Michigan State standout Torey Krug scored the lone Bruins goal.
The Wings (14-39-4) will once again hit the road for a four-game swing which begins Tuesday in Buffalo, followed by a game on Thursday in New Jersey and concluding next weekend with back-to-back afternoon contests, Saturday in Boston and Sunday in Pittsburgh. Boston (34-11-12) will next see action on Wednesday as they host the Montreal Canadiens.
1. Jonathan Bernier: You can't ask for much more from Detroit's goaltenders. Howard stopped 42 of 43 shots in Columbus but lost the 2-0 shutout, which is the same fate that Bernier had in a 1-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Feb. 1 and then again in a 3-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers Feb. 3. It's incredibly challenging facing the Bruins, who have David Pastrnak, third in the league with 77 points (38-39-77) coming in, Brad Marchand, sixth in the league coming in with 69 points (23-46-69). Bernier was kept very busy in the first as the Wings had to kill off three penalties, including 1:18 of a 5-on-3. Marchand had at least three good looks but Bernier stopped all of his quick shots from the right circle. In the second, Marchand appeared to beat Bernier with a redirection of Pastrnak's shot at 12:33, which would have tied the game, 1-1. But the Wings challenged that the play was offside and after a lengthy review, the officials agreed and waved off the goal. In the third, Pastrnak high-sticked Luke Glendening but the officials did not see it. As Glendening tried to get back in the play, Pastrnak found Torey Krug, who scored his eighth goal of the season just 33 seconds into the third, tying the game at 1-1. After the Wings retook the lead on Athanasiou's power-play goal, Bernier stood tall, sliding over to stop Pastrnak in the left circle as the Bruins had the extra attacker with 1:30 remaining in regulation. Since Dec. 12, Bernier has a 1.97 goals-against average and .940 save percentage, both ranked third in the league in that time span.
Quotable: "I think mentally I'm just focusing on myself instead of maybe sometimes being upset that we're not winning, or things like that. Just trying to stay positive. At the same time, you play more, you get into a groove and that's what's happening right now. A 5-on-3 against that team is - definitely if you kill that, it's gonna give you some momentum. I thought we battled hard. We had some big blocks. (Taro) Hirose there at the end, Glenny like usual. I thought guys stepped up." - Bernier
Quotable II: "I think it's huge, obviously when you get that big save and just grab the momentum off it. It was kind of a little bit of a back and forth game off the start. A good way to kind of gain that confidence and get that momentum and get the fans into it." - Athanasiou
Quotable III: "Their goalie seems to play well when we play him and he was feeling it. Even when he couldn't see the puck, it would find a way to hit him. He played well and defensively they really clamped down. It seems like they get excited to play us. For whatever reason, it's a tough matchup for us." - Krug
Quotable IV: "It gives you confidence but two, it keeps you in games. I think the last the last few games we've had a little bend but don't break, where we haven't given up tons of big-time chances but certainly a lot of shots and zone time and the goalies have made the saves they're supposed to make and then both guys have made big saves at big moments. That's what we need to have opportunities to win. Jonathan's been good since December. So it gives you confidence, No. 1, and 2, it gives you opportunities to stay in games and not lose momentum." - Blashill
2. Andreas Athanasiou: You're never quite where you want to be right when you return from an injury, especially if it was one that kept you out more than a few games. Athanasiou has now played in the last four games after missing 13 with a lower-body injury and is starting to become a little more dangerous each game. In his second game, Athanasiou scored a shootout goal in the 4-3 win. On Sunday afternoon against the Bruins, Tyler Bertuzzi found Athanasiou at the right side of the net and Athanasiou beat Rask for his sixth goal of the season and first since Nov. 16 at San Jose, snapping a 20-game goalless streak. Dylan Larkin got the second assist, his 150th career assist. It also was Athanasiou's 150th career point. Athanasiou was on the ice when Boston had the extra attacker late in the third, trying to tie the game, and Filip Hronek got the puck out of the zone to Christoffer Ehn, who passed it to Athanasiou for the empty-netter, his second of the game and seventh of the season. Athanasiou finished with 21 shifts for 20:26, second among forwards to only Bertuzzi's 21:12, had a team-high four shots, two giveaways, a blocked shot, was 2-for-10 in face-offs and was plus-1.
Quotable: "Just taking the lead there was obviously the most important thing. I think the boys moved it around pretty good there to give me a pretty open chance there. I was fortunate enough that it found a hole and went in. I feel pretty good. Obviously it's getting better with every game, every shift. It's feeling good." - Athanasiou
Quotable II: "He's a very dangerous and speedy player. We definitely need him in the lineup and he makes a big difference for sure." - Bernier
Quotable III: "Certainly getting more comfortable out there. He's a good skater so I thought he was able to hit the ground skating. I think confidence matters again and obviously these two goals will be big for him. When Andreas digs in, he's really good defensively and you want talented guys out there in those situations when you can 'cause they find ways to score empty-net goals. I think if you look around the league, a lot of teams use some of their top guys, certainly your elite defenders that are going to be out there. But some of your top guys find ways to score empty-net goals. I thought he was having a solid game, I thought he was having a committed game and I wanted to make sure I reward him with that." - Blashill
3. Brendan Perlini: Everyone has heard the old Wayne Gretzky saying, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take." The Wings have not gotten a ton of shots of late. But when Adam Erne found Brendan Perlini heading toward Boston's end with speed, he got him the puck and Perlini fired a shot from the left circle that beat Rask at the far post. It marked Perlini's first goal of the season, first goal as a Wing and first since April 6, 2019 at Nashville when he was a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. When Robby Fabbri was injured in the second, Perlini found himself playing alongside his former Belle Tire teammate Larkin and with Bertuzzi. Perlini finished with 17 shifts for 12:22, had one shot, one blocked shot and was even.
Quotable: "Well it was kind of about time. I've had enough chances over the last little bit. Good to get on board and more importantly, get the win. More just on net, to be honest. I felt that I've had good opportunities the last little bit. Trying to be kind of picking spots, it obviously hasn't been working. I think my shot is so quick and fast, as long as I get it on net, I get a good chance." - Perlini
Quotable II: "It was great. I thought it was, obviously for his confidence but when I was watching, it was a great power move. We see that in practice. It was nice. He's a big guy, great shot. That was a beautiful goal." - Bernier
Quotable III: "That's definitely huge. I feel like there's definitely been a lot of opportunities where he could've had one. He's had some tough luck. He's got a lot of skill and he's a good player. I think everyone was happy to see him get that one." - Athanasiou
Quotable IV: "He's a guy who's shown that he can score in the league. Obviously, he's had a hard time clicking since he's been here. I actually thought his overall game was good, so he got more ice time than he normally does. He was rewarded with a goal. I thought he won a lot of battles. He was always pretty good defensively, but I thought he won a lot of battles and he's got a really good shot. So for a team that hasn't scored at all to get a guy that has shown some ability to score I think is great." - Blashill