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Bruins 3, Red Wings 2

Perfect time, place for Bruins’ Zach Trotman’s first NHL goal

Zach Trotman (62) delivered the game-winning goal in the third period.
Zach Trotman (62) delivered the game-winning goal in the third period.Getty Images
Bruins3
Red Wings2

DETROIT — Zach Trotman shook a little, as if he did not yet believe what had happened. In a crucial game for the Bruins — a game that truly, they should have lost — the defenseman had snuck a puck between the body and arm of Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek, counting for the game-winner and his first NHL goal all in one.

It had come in front of 30 family members and friends, with Trotman having grown up in Novi, 29 miles from Detroit.

“Perfect timing, I think,” Trotman said.

Trotman had registered his first shot on goal with 2:08 left in regulation in a game in which the Bruins had trailed by two goals in the third period. And though Mrazek likely should have had it, that hardly mattered to Trotman and the Bruins, who earned two points for their 3-2 victory.

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Those points left the Bruins tied with Detroit for third in the Atlantic Division, though the Red Wings have a game in hand. They also allowed the Bruins to keep pace with Ottawa, an overtime winner over Tampa Bay, for the second wild-card spot in the East.

Eastern Conference playoff race
Bruins and Red Wings are tied for final two spots following Thursday's games.
Points Games left
Penguins 95 5
Red Wings 93 5
Bruins 93 4
Senators 90 5
Panthers 87 4
DATA: NHL
Globe Staff

The winning sequence started when Darren Helm’s stick broke, allowing Trotman to jump into the play, knowing that he “probably wasn’t going to poke it away from me. So I figured I might as well try and go low.” Trotman was simply trying to shoot to Mrazek’s near pad, he said, to drive to the net for a rebound.

There was no need.

“I was just ecstatic,” Trotman said. “I couldn’t believe it at first. Surreal. You dream about that moment for a long time, so when it finally happens, it’s kind of . . . shock.”

It was a nearly miraculous result given how the Bruins had come out against the Red Wings — a team that tends to bring out feast or famine in the Bruins. The Bruins went down by two goals early in the third, on a bouncing power-play goal knocked in by Stephen Weiss at 2:52.

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Earlier in the season, that would have deflated the Bruins. It would have meant a sure loss. But not now.

Instead, the Bruins won their fourth straight game, and have nine of 10 possible points in their last five.

“I really felt that, once they scored that second goal, you saw a real urgency on our bench, which is a great sign,” coach Claude Julien said. “The guys said, ‘Listen, we’ve got to get going here.’ ”

Said Tuukka Rask, who made 35 saves, “First 42 or so minutes it felt like wind in our face, uphill. They just kept coming and coming. We turned pucks over, couldn’t get anything going. But then they got that second goal and something just clicked and we started playing good. We looked like a different team after that.”

Tuukka Rask made 35 saves Thursday.
Tuukka Rask made 35 saves Thursday.AP

The Bruins somehow managed to keep the Red Wings off the board in the first, a period that saw Detroit outshoot Boston, 14-7. And then came the second, a period of chaotic lines and a missing Patrice Bergeron, after the center went down the tunnel 35 seconds in. He returned for the third period with 20-plus stitches in his lip, courtesy of a Justin Abdelkader high stick.

Bergeron’s absence forced Julien to adjust his lines, and the Carl Soderberg-David Krejci-Loui Eriksson combination was particularly unsuccessful.

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That line, though, morphed into a scoring powerhouse in the third, when Soderberg and Eriksson were reunited with Reilly Smith. Soderberg scored on the power play at 5:05, after Smith nabbed a loose puck, skated through the defense, and shot, with the rebound ending up on Soderberg’s stick for the score.

Eriksson added his 21st of the season at 7:19, started by a pass from Soderberg to Smith from the boards, with the cleanup coming from Eriksson. That tied the score, and set up Trotman’s winner.

Reilly Smith celebrates after Loui Eriksson tied the score at 2-2 in the third.
Reilly Smith celebrates after Loui Eriksson tied the score at 2-2 in the third.Getty Images

That goal was the third from the Bruins that broke a tie with less than three minutes to go in regulation or in overtime in their last three games, a series of wins that have tried the blood pressure of Julien and Bruins fans likely in equal measure. The points are needed, but a lead a bit earlier would be preferable.

“It’s great to see,” Smith said. “It’s tough because we keep putting ourselves in that situation, especially tonight when you’re down by two goals in the third period, it’s tough to make that comeback.

“We got a couple lucky bounces and those aren’t going to happen every night. We’ve got to do a better job of coming out with a little bit better effort, keeping it close. Two goals is too much in the third period to rely on that all the time. We were lucky enough tonight, but we’ve got to get a better effort next game, for sure.”

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Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.