DETROIT — There will be another item headed to Dougie Hamilton’s collection of hockey valuables, though he doesn’t plan on doing anything special with it besides store it.
The Bruins defenseman has a puck to add to that collection, namely the one that he shot into Detroit’s net in the first period of Game 3 that turned out to be meaningful in more ways than one.
Midway through the first period, Hamilton skated into the Detroit zone on what looked like an innocent-looking rush, but it turned out to be anything but. His wrist shot from just inside the right circle eluded Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard with 11 minutes left in the period for Hamilton’s first playoff goal.
It also turned out to be the winner, following the Bruins’ 3-0 victory in Game 3 of the first-round series.
And yes, he asked for and received the puck.
“I value it,” Hamilton said. “It’s a bigger level when you are playing in the playoffs and it is nice to score. I got the puck and am going to put it in the collection I guess. I don’t know [what I will do with it]. I haven’t done anything special with any of my stuff, so I guess I’ll just keep it and it will be nice to have it.”
It was a special moment for Hamilton, but even a better one for the Bruins in other ways:
■ It gave Boston a 1-0 lead and the all-important first goal.
■ It came on the power play, which allowed the Bruins to make Detroit pay for taking a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty 1:20 earlier.
■ It further shook the confidence of Howard, who after a Game 1 shutout, hasn’t been the same the past two games and likely will be criticized for giving up a goal by a defenseman on a wrist shot he could clearly see.
■ It settled the Bruins into the game after the Detroit crowd was predictably amped up at the start.
“It was huge,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. “The crowd was pretty fired up and they were going crazy. Detroit can take a lot of momentum from that and Dougie’s goal did a great job and calming everything down and allowing us to just play our game.”
Hamilton was aggressive when he could be in the first two games by jumping up into plays and rushing up ice, and was obviously happy to finally be rewarded for it.
He was all alone against three defenders who were backing up in front of Howard, but he found some room to get a shot off and fired it past Howard’s glove.
“I was just trying to keep a good gap and get pucks at him,” said Hamilton, who ended up logging 16:03 of ice time. “Just trying to man the play and get shots early.”
The goal also continued a theme in this series for the Bruins.
Forward Jordan Caron also joined the first-time-playoff-goal-scorers club later in the first period when he put home a rebound with 4:12 left to give the Bruins a 2-0 lead.
In Game 2, forwards Reilly Smith and Justin Florek scored their first playoff goals.
Getting production from such unexpected sources is always a good sign, and if it continues, odds are good the Bruins won’t have to come back to Detroit for a Game 6.
“That’s what you expect in the playoffs,” Marchand said. “You need all four lines to contribute. That has been why we have been so good all year. We have four good lines and every night a different line steps up and contributes. We are going to need that to continue as long as we are in the playoffs.”