DETROIT >> All in a span of just less than seven minutes in the opening period, the Detroit Red Wings’ lost their home-ice advantage over the Boston Bruins.
And all because of one bad goal and one bad line change.
Boston took back home ice after a 3-0 victory over Detroit in Game 3 of their first round Eastern Conference best-of-seven playoff series Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena.
“We give them two goals no matter how you look at it,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It was like the energy in the building, the excitement, whatever it was we didn’t handle it to good. We were off kilter from the get-go. We fumbled the puck around.”
Boston, which dropped Game 1 of the series 1-0, has outscored Detroit 7-1 over the last two games.
Dougie Hamilton, Jordan Caron and Patrice Bergeron scored for the Bruins, who last won a game at Joe Louis Arena on March 11, 2007. Tuukka Rask made 23 saves.
Jimmy Howard stopped 31 shots.
“We made some uncharacteristic mistakes there in the first and it gave them some life,” Danny DeKeyser said. “They put home a couple goals right away there that took some life out of our sails.
“It’s always tough to get into a 2-0 hole, especially at the start of the game,” DeKeyser continued. “It’s hard any part of the season, but it’s harder at playoff time. They buckled down and played some solid D.”
Hamilton scored first on the power play, one that Howard would want back, wristing a shot over his glove hand.
It was Hamilton’s first career playoff goal.
The Wings were penalized for too many men on the ice.
“It’s probably one I should have had,” Howard said.
The Bruins are now 3-for-8 of the power play in the series.
“That goal can’t go in,” Babcock said.
Earlier in the period, Hamilton rang a shot off the goal post to the right of Howard just three minutes into the game, intercepting an attempted backhand clearing attempt by Pavel Datsyuk.
The Bruins doubled their lead seven minutes later taking advantage of a horrible line change by the Wings. Shawn Thornton picked up the puck at center ice to go alone in on Howard, who made the save, but it was followed up by Caron blasting it home.
“I didn’t think we played very well from the start,” Niklas Kronwall said. “I didn’t think we took care of the puck well enough, and again, I have to be better in those areas, help our team better. We made some mistakes. The second one was just a bad change by me. And those are freebies we can’t afford.”
Bergeron added an empty-net goal with two minutes left to play.
The Wings, who had won both regular season meetings at home be a combined score of 9-3, were 0-for-3 with the man advantage, making them 0-for-6 in the series.
“I thought the power play was a little bit better,” DeKeyser said. “It doesn’t really matter if it looks good. The purpose of the power play is to score goals and that’s not happening right now. We’ll look at the tape and try and change some things.”
The winner of this series will face Montreal after the Canadiens eliminated Tampa Bay in four straight games with their 4-3 win Tuesday night.
The Wings best chance to get back in the game came midway through the second period with 35 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play, but like all series long they were unable to beat Rask with the man advantage.
Then on a power play in the third, Johan Franzen feathered a pass to the front of the Bruins net that David Legwand was unable to redirect past Rask.
“It’s tough coming out of a 2-0 hole early in the first like that,” DeKeyser said. “We put ourselves in a bad position. They make it hard to score goals.”
Boston had back-to-back power plays to begin the second period that the Wings were able to kill off. The best scoring chance was by Darren Helm, who dinged one off the post to the left of Rask.
“They’re a veteran team,” Howard said. “They’ve been in situations playing with a lead. They played in the Stanley Cup Finals last year. They know what they’re doing out there. We’ve got to find a way to have a lot better start, get our young legs going and just skate and find ways of crashing the net, just getting in there and make him a little more uncomfortable.”
Game 4 is Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.
“I think they’re a good team,” Howard said. “There’s a reason why they won the Presidents’ Trophy this year. They know what they’re doing. They play their systems really well, they box out and make it really hard to get free to get to the net. We’re just going to have to, all of us, get a little bit better.”