DETROIT — Hockey is a fast game. An exciting game. A funny game.
Evidence of the latter:
The Bruins, leading the NHL standings in points (80), have 11 regulation losses this season. Two of them are to a team having one of the worst seasons in NHL history.
That would be the Red Wings, who used a little pluck, a little luck, and a phenomenal performance from goaltender Jonathan Bernier to wrest a 3-1 win away from the top dogs Sunday at Little Ceasars Arena.
The Bruins (34-11-12), playing their second game in less than 22 hours, were unable to put more than a lone puck past the veteran Bernier, who stopped 39 of 40 shots. He may have taken a Ping-Pong ball or two away from the lottery-bound Wings, who improved to 14-39-4.
Detroit, which won for the second time in 11 games (2-9-1) and seventh time since Nov. 12, allowed the Bruins a glut of scoring chances. Boston also had four power-play chances, but it went 0 for 4.
Tuukka Rask stopped 18 of 20 shots in a game he was not supposed to start. Torey Krug scored the only goal for the visitors, who host Montreal on Wednesday.
Other observations from the back end of back-t0-back games:
■ Jaroslav Halak, scheduled to start the second game of the back-to-back, was missing in action during the national anthem. The netminder was spotted stretching in the hallway before the game, the team eschewing its regular morning skate, and appeared ready to play. The Bruins announced midway through the first period that Halak was not feeling well, and could back up if necessary. Halak did not sit on the bench for the entire game.
■ That meant players rotated duty opening the bench door, and more importantly, it meant Tuukka Rask played his second game in less than 22 hours. He stopped 12 of 13 shots through 40 minutes, allowing a Brendan Perlini goal 2:07 into the second period. The Bruins were down, 1-0, at the end of two.
■ Torey Kug tied it 33 seconds into the third, after David Pastrnak slipped a hook pass across the slot to an open Krug. It was the eighth goal of the year for the defenseman, who grew up in nearby Livonia, Mich.
■ The Bruins appeared to tie it at 12:22 of the second, when Brad Marchand tipped a Pastrnak pass through Jonathan Bernier. The pass got through two Detroit sticks and the goalie’s legs, but it didn’t get past Jeff Blashill. The coach and his staff challenged for offside, which became a success a long time in the making. Officials deliberated for several minutes before ruling that Brad Marchand re-entered the offensive zone prior to Patrice Bergeron’s skate completely leaving the ice while making a line change.
■ Scintillating stuff.
■ The coach’s challenge rule was put in place to correct “egregious” mistakes, and this was hardly that. The episode ground the game to a halt.
■ The Bruins, who posted an efficient performance on the power play (2 for 4) the day before against the Coyotes, fired blanks. Through 40 minutes they were 0 for 4, despite eight shots on goal and 1:18 of 5 on 3 time in the first period.
■ The Bruins killed two penalties in the first half of the first period, allowing one shot.
■ Feeling they were in the game after killing three first-period penalties and the lengthy two-man disadvantage, the Wings jumped on the Bruins to start the second. Perlini scored his first as a Red Wing by motoring past Brandon Carlo to the outside and finding space under Rask’s glove.
■ Charlie McAvoy continues to be a focus for opponents. Near the end of the first period, McAvoy was shaken up when he took a blindside bump in the back from Justin Abdelkader, well away from the play. It went unpenalized, as did the high shot he took from Arizona’s Lawson Crouse in the second period of Saturday’s game. McAvoy is becoming a No. 1 defenseman for Boston, and is clearly in the crosshairs. He took more punishment at the end of the second period on a shot block, gingerly returning to the bench.
■ Midway through the second, Rask had to shake off a sharp-angle Andreas Athanasiou shot that caught him in the side of the neck/shoulder area, rattled off the crossbar, and bonked him in the head. Trainer Don DelNegro saw him, but he continued.
■ Hit of the day came from Chris Wagner, who bowled over Detroit’s Robby Fabbri and teammate Par Lindholm in the second. Fabbri did not return, the Wings announcing he had an upper body injury.