|Petr Mrazek makes one of his 22 saves against the Bruins Thursday night. But Boston scored three times in the third to salvage a 3-2 win over the Red Wings. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings) |
DETROIT – The Red Wings hold the slimmest of leads in the standings after they couldn’t hang onto an early third-period lead Thursday night.
Detroit was unable to hold off the Boston Bruins, who scored three times in the third to escape Joe Louis Arena with a 3-2 win, essentially tying the Wings for third place in the Atlantic Division with 93 points each.
The Bruins have four games remaining; the Wings have five left, including a pair against Carolina next week. Ottawa also kept pace in the playoff picture Thursday with a 2-1 overtime win over Tampa Bay. The Senators have 90 points with five games left.
Blowing 2-0 leads has been a theme this week, as the Wings also lost in similar fashion to the New York Islanders on Sunday.
“I don’t know if it’s two-goal leads,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “Obviously it’s better to be up three, but we had some really good opportunities from the first period, me included. We have to bear down when we get the chances. This time of the year when you have your chances you have to score on them. We’re not doing that right now.”
The Wings controlled the first 40 minutes of the game, registering 26 shots while limiting the Bruins to just 15 shots on goalie Petr Mrazek, who was spectacular through two periods. Detroit finished with a 37-25 edge in shots as six different players – Teemu Pulkkinen 5, Tomas Tatar, Zetterberg, Luke Glendening 4, and Justin Abdelkader and Gustav Nyquist 3 – registered three or more shots at Boston goalie Tuukka Rask.
“I thought we played a good hockey game,” coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought we had lots of opportunity, had good pace, probably as good a pace as we’ve had in a long time. In the end Rask kept us from winning the game.”
The Wings were feeling pretty good after they grabbed a 2-0 lead on Stephen Weiss’s power-play goal at 2:52 of the third period. Glendening opened the scoring on a backhand shot at 9:19 of the second.
It was the first time the Wings have scored first against the Bruins in five games this season. Boston scored first in the four previous meetings and finished the season series with a 4-1-0 record.
The Bruins stormed back in the third getting goals by Carl Soderberg, Loui Eriksson and Zach Trotman, whose game-winner was the first of his career. Trotman’s shot went between Mrazek and the near post at 2:08 left in regulation.
“It’s like anything,” Babcock said. “As a goaltender you want to stop ‘em all. It was a broken stick and it was a wrister like you’d like it stopped. I remember the kid made some saves as well. So it all goes part and parcel.”
Soon after the ensuing face-off, Mrazek went to the Wings’ bench for an extra attacker. But the Wings’ plans were thwarted by a too many men on the ice penalty with 48 seconds left.
“It’s just real simple,” Babcock said. “You have a board and you write it down and you say this is who’s got who and I’ll explain it and they know what number they’ve got. I guess they went out there for the wrong guy.”
It didn’t help Detroit’s cause that it was without top-line center Pavel Datsyuk and forwards Erik Cole and Tomas Jurco. Datsyuk has missed seven of the past nine games with a lower leg injury, while Cole sat out for the fifth straight time with an upper-body.
Following Thursday’s morning skate Datsyuk thought he’d be ready for Saturday’s game in Minnesota, where the Wings will face the Wild, the hottest team in the second half of the season.
The Wings’ magic number remains at seven. Any combination of seven points gained by the Red Wings or seven points squandered by the Senators will lift Detroit to its 24th straight playoff berth.
“It’s always disappointing," said defenseman Niklas Kronwall of Thursday’s loss. “But it’s encouraging with the way we played. We’d like to have a couple of those goals back, but it is what it is. We just have to stay the course, stay patient in here, try and stay positive and look ahead for Saturday.”