DETROIT — Goalie Tuukka Rask didn’t have to make a lot of saves during overtime in Game 4 against the Red Wings on Thursday night, but the quality of one he made proved to be the turning point for the Bruins.
With roughly 1:30 gone in the extra session, the fate of the game and complexion of the series rested on the stick of Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader, who found himself on a breakaway.
Abdelkader deked to his backhand and tried to slip the puck underneath Rask’s legs, but Rask didn’t allow that to happen, directing the puck harmlessly to the side as his teammates came to help out.
“After that, we kind of took over,” Rask said.
Boston outshot Detroit, 12-2, from that point, tilting the ice completely in its favor.
The Bruins were rewarded when a point shot that was deflected by Jarome Iginla caromed off the leg of Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser and into the net with 6:28 left, giving Boston a 3-2 win and a commanding 3-1 series lead. The Bruins have a chance to close out the series at home on Saturday.
“It looked like we had chances, but you just hope we get the puck in the net,” Rask said.
Rask and the Bruins had to make a lot of adjustments at the start of the game.
Henrik Zetterberg suited up for the first time in the series, bruiser Todd Bertuzzi was inserted into the lineup to bring some size and physicality, and backup Jonas Gustavsson was in net because Jimmy Howard was suffering from what the team ruled was the flu.
Bertuzzi’s addition paid off immediately. On the power play, Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall fired a shot through a screen by Bertuzzi to give the Red Wings a 1-0 lead in the first period.
It could’ve been a lot worse for the Bruins with the way the Red Wings controlled the play in the first period. Detroit outshot the Bruins by a 15-5 margin, but Rask was his steady self, keeping the Bruins’ heads above water.
“I thought Rask was good and we could have been up more after one [period],” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “You’ve got to give the goalie credit.’’
Detroit made it 2-0 on a goal by Pavel Datsyuk 4:27 into the second period, but that was the last time Rask would be beaten.
The Bruins seized momentum from there and the only difficult part for Rask might have been trying to stay loose and focused because much of the play was happening in Detroit’s zone.
“We weathered the storm in the first period,” Rask said. “They had a step on us and kept the lead, but I think we got better as the game went on and we got rewarded there.”
Rask made 35 saves overall and has only given up four goals in the first four games of the series. This, however, was the first time the Red Wings managed to score more than once in a game.
“They were a lot more physical and had a lot of screens and shots I didn’t see,” Rask said. “It was the best of them I think.”
Ultimately, it wasn’t good enough for Detroit.
Once overtime started, there definitely was a “go-for-it” mentality for the Bruins, who made life easy on Rask after he made the initial big save on Abdelkader.
“We talked about going out there and playing to win and holding nothing back,” Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. “[A] 3-1 [series lead] is a lot different than 2-2 and when you have the mind-set and the confidence of going out there and getting that goal and getting that win, that is big.”