Bruins Turn the Tide in Game 2 as Florek Shines, Miller Returns
BOSTON, MA - The Bruins are heading to Detroit with the series tied at 1-1, after powering to a 4-1 win over the Red Wings in Game 2 on Sunday at TD Garden.
Justin Florek got Boston on the board with his first NHL postseason goal and the Bruins' first goal of the 2014 playoffs.
It came after the Black & Gold finally got some puck luck against Detroit. When netminder Jimmy Howard attempted to clear the puck to defenseman Brendan Smith, it bounced right to Florek on the forecheck, and he quickly zipped the puck around and into the net before Howard could retreat.
The 1-0 lead came 7:28 into the first, and lit up the crowd.
"I think getting that first one was huge, especially after not being able to get one past them last game," said Milan Lucic. "Sometimes all it takes is a lucky bounce like that to kind of turn the tide and get some confidence and momentum in the goal-scoring department."
Reilly Smith scored a greasy goal, jamming the puck in the power-play after a drive by Patrice Bergeron at 10:35 into the first, for the eventual game-winner and the first Stanley Cup Playoff goal of his career.
Boston outshot Detroit 18-10 in the opening 20 minutes. Not surprisingly, the Red Wings pushed back in the second, ultimately outshooting the Bruins 13-6 in the period. They pulled within one at 13:20 into the frame, thanks to net-front presence, with a shot from Darren Helm going off Luke Glendening and in behind Tuukka Rask.
Milan Lucic added his first of the series to regain the two-goal lead, off a give-and-go passing sequence with Jarome Iginla, after Torey Krug broke the puck cleanly of the out zone. The goal came with 1:44 left in the second.
Zdeno Chara added the Bruins' second power-play goal of the game just 2:27 into the third to make it 4-1 when he jammed in the loose puck through Howard's five-hole, after a shot was wristed on net by Iginla.
"We knew that first game we didn’t play our best. We wanted to make sure that we were better today, and I think we were," said Chara. "So we’ve just go to, again, continue to do the things that we do well and keep improving and adjusting."
Physicality Ramped Up
In Game 2, the Bruins were finally able to get their game going, forechecking hard, maintaining possession and creating sustained pressure from shift to shift. They won more battles, and it showed on the score sheet.
While they didn't have an overbearing hits advantage, delivering 33 to Detroit's 29, Boston's physicality helped them create more space.
"I think we played more of our game, and kind of took the hesitation out of our game I think that was there in that first game," said Lucic. "So I know we talked about how important this game was ever since the loss, and it was good to have a response here to get the series back to 1-1."
"When we play that style of hockey, everybody is going and everybody feeds off of each other," said Boychuk. "It gives us a little bit more room out there too, to try to make plays. They scored that one goal, it was just a lucky bounce off the hand and into the net but Tuukka played well."
"Just being physical, I think if we continue to do that, it will help us out."
Miller Returns, Makes Presence Felt
After getting over the flu, defenseman Kevan Miller returned to the lineup in Game 2. He logged 19:52 in ice time, with four hits, two blocked shots and a takeaway on the stat sheet. He made his presence felt with his patented heavy, physical game, winning battles and making simple, smart plays.
Delivering a heavy hit on Detroit's Drew Miller within the first two minutes of the game helped get him into the groove.
"It's always good to try and get a hit and get going early," Miller said after the win that marked his NHL playoff debut.
"It was exciting, exciting for sure. It was tough to watch on Friday for me, seeing the guys out there battling and me not being able to be out there."
Out with the flu for Game 1, Miller didn't start, in his words, "actually functioning as a human being again" until Friday afternoon. He had been back on the ice for one practice Thursday, but that's "when things really went south there, so that was unfortunate."
"It was tough, it started really early in the week and kind of persisted, so I know it was the same for a number of guys, and me and Bart seemed to have it pretty bad," he said.
"It is tough, when you miss that amount of time, to come back in, so you want to keep things simple, and I tried to do that early and just get a feel of the game."
"He’s a tough guy to beat," said Jarome Iginla. "He’s a very strong competitor and it was great to have him back on the lineup and set that tone early."
Justin Florek has four NHL regular season games in his repertoire - with a goal and an assist - and now two NHL playoff games and his first postseason goal.
"It felt great, you know, just great to get the fans into it and get everyone going, especially the team," Florek said, all smiles, from the Bruins' locker room postgame. "So I think it was a good start for us, and hopefully, you know carry that out through the rest of the series."
The Marquette, Michigan native's mother was in attendance, taking in her second NHL game (her first was Florek's Stanley Cup Playoff debut on Friday).
"It was awesome. He's a great guy, he's a great player," said Miller, who spent all last season with Florek in Providence. "I think he's stepped in and done some good things right away and I'm really happy for him. It was a huge goal for us."
Winning End of Special Teams
The Bruins went 2-for-4 on the power play, with both units finding the back of the net on Smith and Chara's goals. They ran into penalty trouble in the second period, but ended the night going 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
"The PK stepped up and was able to shut them down. And obviously getting that second PP goal at the start of the third period was huge to get the three-goal lead," said Lucic. "It’s been strength for us throughout the season, and we’ve just got to keep making plays and take our chances when we have them on the PP."
Zdeno Chara (6:31) and Johnny Boychuk (5:28) led the way in penalty killing ice time. Florek stepped in and filled the void with PK specialists Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly not back in the lineup yet.
Boychuk ended the game with four of the Bruins' 14 blocked shots and was named the Second Star of the Game.
"We try to win the battles, obviously. We have big bodies and we try to have good sticks and win the battles," said Rask, of the team's aggressive PK. "It helps my job, obviously, and then guys block shots, they’re physical in front of the net. If I don’t have to save the puck it makes my job a lot easier, right? A lot of credit for the guys."
First Star Effort
Rask earned First Star honors, making 34 saves on 35 shots. David Krejci passed on the Old-Time Hockey Player of the Game Jacket to him in the Bruins' locker room for the effort.
His best save came with about nine minutes left in the third, when he got a piece of Brendan Smith's booming shot after Pavel Datsyuk had threaded him the puck wide open in the slot.
The Bruins' netminder was as sharp as ever, and his teammates safely cleared any rebounds.
"It’s good to see that we’re pushing hard and we got rewarded pretty early, too," said Rask. "Especially at home, I think it’s important to get that physical start."
Series Tied at 1-1
The Bruins are set to practice at TD Garden on Monday, before heading to Detroit for Games 3 and 4, looking to carry the momentum from the victory into Joe Louis Arena.
"[Our urgency] was much better, it was where we needed it to be to get a win," said Lucic. "And if we want to have some success moving forward that urgency has to remain high."
"When you play one game, I don’t think it speaks much about the series. We have to go in there and make sure we continue to do those things well," said Torey Krug.
"I don’t think we can say we are comfortable. I think we understand what it takes to beat these guys and I think if we play like that, we will have success this series."