Boston, MA -- The Detroit Red Wings proved why they are at the top of the NHL power rankings with a 3-1 victory over the surging Boston Bruins in a sold out TD Banknorth Garden Saturday night in Boston. Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and an assist for the victors while Boston's Chuck Kobasew scored the lone goal for the Black & Gold.
Detroit Red Wings center Kris Draper (33) pushes Boston Bruins' P.J. Axelsson (11), of Sweden, off the puck in the third period of the NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2008, in Boston. The Red Wings beat the Bruins, 3-1. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
"They are the best in the league for a reason," said Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien. "And I thought for at least two thirds of the game we played pretty well against them.
"There were some little lapses here and there, but overall we played pretty well."
Thursday night in Ottawa, the Boston Bruins bested the top team in the Eastern Conference in the Senators, but home cooking got no easier as the NHL-leading Detroit Red Wings flew east to take on the B's in the Garden.
The Bruins came out of the locker room a little sloppy and allowed Detroit access to their offensive zone several times before their skates found traction early in the first. However, the remainder of the opening session was controlled by Boston.
On a play started by Milan Lucic, and perhaps in a bit of pre-Beanpot fervor, former Boston College standout Chuck Kobasew took return pass from Glen Metropolit and beat Detroit goalie Chris Osgood to make the scoreboard read, 1-0, Boston at 7:52.
"It was a neutral zone turnover," said Kobasew. "[Lucic] did a great job in creating the turnover and Metro and I had a little give and go on a 2-on-1."
Despite consistent pressure from the B's, Osgood, who had displayed some initial shakiness, settled in and displayed the skill that got him an all-star berth last weekend. He and Boston's Tim Thomas both ended the period with nine saves, including several of very high quality.
'I think in the first period we executed our game plan, " said Kobasew. "And then we got away from it.
"We know that they are a highly skilled team and we just gave them too much room."
The second period began well for Boston and the home squad ended up with a 5-on-3 power play thanks to successive penalties given to Detroit. But Osgood and the Red Wing defense were up to the task and killed both man-advantages.
It was late in the second stanza, after another missed man-advantage for Boston, that Detroit tied the game and confirmed the old hockey adage that missed chances will come back to haunt a team.
The Red Wings Henrik Zetterberg won a face off to the right of Thomas' goal and in the ensuing scrum, he controlled the puck and, in one motion, went top shelf over the Boston goalie to tie the score, 1-1, at 15:04.
"I think that it was pretty obvious that ...one of the turning points was the 5-on-3," said Julien. "If we capitalize it is a 2-0 game.
Detroit Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood (30) makes a save on a shot by Boston Bruins' Peter Schaefer (72) while Detroit Red Wings' Valtteri Filppula (51), of Finland, helps on the play in the first period of the NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2008 in Boston. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)
"We have to have a better killer instinct in those situations."
Detroit showed their own killer instinct when they scored early in the third to put Boston in a one-goal hole.
The Red Wings Pavel Datsyuk finished terrific pass from Zetterberg at just 1:53 and it took Boston most of the first half of the period to regain the momentum in the game.
"They are a team that obviously thrives on mistakes and turnovers," said veteran Bruins defenseman, Aaron Ward, a former Red Wing. "[But] it was a good game.
"It was entertaining and I thought we gave ourselves an opportunity to win with some great chances."
Some of those chances came later in the third period when a surge at around the 10-minute mark put both sets of fans on the edge of their seats.
Members of Boston's gold line, Kobasew, Metropolit and Lucic, kept the play in the Detroit end and poured several shots on Osgood and several other Boston skaters followed suit and nearly tied the game -- but it was to no avail.
A late power play goal by Detroit made the score 3-1 with less than six minutes remaining in the game -- Brian Rafalski scored the goal at 14:02 -- and the two goal lead proved insurmountable Boston, who saw their three game winning streak come to an end.
"This was a good measuring stick," said Thomas, who finished with 29 saves (Osgood had 22). "We didn't just hold on for most of the game, we were playing right with them.
"So that was a good sign."
Boston returns to practice on Monday before facing Buffalo at the Garden in the first half of a home-at-home series.