It was the first shift back in the lineup for Kevan Miller, who had spent the week in the clutches of a flu bug, and the first shift of his playoff career. Just seconds in, he laid a hard, heavy hit on Drew Miller along the boards. As Jarome Iginla said, “I thought he helped set the tone.”
It was the way the Bruins have to play against the Red Wings, the way they hadn’t played in their Game 1 loss. They had, to some degree, abandoned their style, a style that brought them the Presidents’ Trophy as the best team in the regular season, and one that can be difficult for opponents to play against.
They needed that back. In Game 2, they got it.
“We played more of our game, kind of took the hesitation out of our game that was there in that first game,” Milan Lucic said. “We talked about how important this game was ever since the loss.”
Hesitation gone, physicality back, the Bruins took a 4-1 Game 2 win over the Red Wings at TD Garden Sunday, sending the series to Detroit tied at a game apiece.
The Bruins played with emotion, with fire, but in a controlled way. They goaded the Red Wings into scrums, into penalties — Detroit took four roughing minors — and into playing the game that the Bruins prefer.
As Detroit coach Mike Babcock said, “They were engaged. They won the battles. They were quick, we were slow.”
“It’s important for us to really grasp what we did [Sunday] and really bottle that up and know that’s what it’s going to take to beat this team,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “It’s going to be important for us to have that kind of intensity and that kind of determination to beat this team because it’s not an eighth-seeded team.”
It helped that the Bruins were able to take advantage of a Detroit miscue to get their first goal of the series, at 7:28 of the first period, giving them the momentum. On a poor exchange between goaltender Jimmy Howard and Brendan Smith, the puck bounced off Smith’s leg and right to Justin Florek. He made the most of the chance.
The Bruins added another goal at 10:35 of the period, on the power play, as the Bruins went 3:39 straight with the man advantage on two calls, both drawn by Carl Soderberg. It was Reilly Smith who got the goal, sweeping the puck past the goal line, but the hard work was done by Loui Eriksson in front, battling with multiple Detroit defenders.
“Loui is unbelievable, and I don’t think he probably gets the credit he deserves there,” Smith said.
But, while the Bruins went into the second with the two-goal lead, they did their best to give it back. The period was dominated by the Red Wings, who had 21 attempts on goal to just 10 by the Bruins and got one goal back on a puck that pinballed off Luke Glendening’s stick and knee and past Tuukka Rask at 13:20.
Still, it was the Bruins with the heartbreaker, coming on a beautiful give-and-go between Lucic and Iginla at 18:16 of the second off a breakout pass from Torey Krug. It was the first significant contribution from a Bruins top line that had been lackluster in the first game and through the first period of Sunday’s game.
“We felt like we didn’t leave enough out there in the first game, and sometimes in a series it takes a little bit to get things going,” Lucic said. “I think it got a little bit better today, but I think moving forward we still have to get better to get to the top of our game.”
Boston added a second power-play goal just 2:27 into the third, as Zdeno Chara followed up a shot by Iginla, a bad goal let in by Howard.
It was a far cry from being shut out in Game 1 of the series. That was because, in large part, the Bruins played like the Bruins.
“We’re a team that doesn’t mind the physical game,” Julien said. “And it only works when you’re able to get there. Last game, we weren’t. Today, we were. We were able to use the physical aspect of our game a little bit more and, because of that, we were able to get to pucks and turn pucks over a little bit more as well. That’s the important part of our game. We know that.”
And, on Sunday, they were not just aware of it, they put it into action.
“When we are engaged emotionally and are controlled and playing physical,” Krug said, “that’s when we are at our best.”