Datsyuk’s late goal lifts Wings over Bruins
Detroit Red Wings' Pavel Datsyuk (13) is congratulated by teammate Johan Franzen after scoring against Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, left, during the third period of Detroit's 1-0 win in Game 1 of a first-round NHL playoff hockey series, in Boston on Friday, April 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
In this photo taken with a fish eye lens, Boston Bruins defenseman Corey Potter (6) struggles with Detroit Red Wings' Riley Sheahan during the first period of a first-round NHL playoff hockey game in Boston on Friday, April 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
BOSTON — Pavel Datsyuk scored at 16:59 of the third period, moments after Jimmy Howard’s best save of the game, and the Detroit Red Wings beat the top-seeded Boston Bruins 1-0 in the opener of their Eastern Conference playoff series Friday night.
The Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy for the best record in the regular season but were locked in a tight game in which neither team had many solid scoring opportunities.
The winning goal came when Datsyuk carried the puck from the right side to the left in Boston’s zone and put a 30-footer from near the left circle past goalie Tuukka Rask’s left glove.
Right before Datsyuk’s 37th career playoff goal, Howard made a brilliant save when Jarome Iginla’s shot from the right point was deflected by Milan Lucic in front of the net. But Howard knocked the puck aside with his glove.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series, the first playoff matchup between the Original Six teams in 57 years, is set for Sunday night in Boston.
The opening loss was the Bruins’ first playoff game since they dropped the deciding Game 6 of last season’s Stanley Cup final. They lost 3-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks after allowing the tying and winning goals in the last 76 seconds.
Datsyuk, who missed 16 games with a knee injury before returning April 4, got his first playoff goal since Game 3 of Detroit’s second-round playoff series against Chicago last year. The Red Wings had a 3-1 lead in that series against the Blackhawks, and then lost three in a row.
Boston had a decent scoring opportunity in the first minute of the third period when Brad Marchand stole the puck in the Detroit zone and fired a 20-footer from Howard’s right. But the goalie stopped the shot with his pad.
The Red Wings had a better chance two minutes later when Rask made a save, and then stuck his right pad out to kick aside Darren Helm’s shot on the rebound.
There were few good scoring opportunities in the first two periods and Boston killed off the only two penalties, boarding against Zdeno Chara at 16:08 of the first and holding against Torey Krug at 15:58 of the second.
With both teams playing a tight checking game, the shots on goal were even at 16-16 heading into the third period.
Boston played without four regulars, including defensemen Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller, both sidelined with the flu. Center Chris Kelly sat out with a back injury and left wing Daniel Paille had a head injury suffered in a collision in the next-to-last game of the regular season.
For Detroit, center Henrik Zetterberg has been out since Feb. 8 with a back condition that required surgery and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson hasn’t played since March 14 because of a broken finger.
Notes: Seven players saw their first playoff action, Detroit’s Luke Glendening, Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar, and Boston’s Justin Florek, Corey Potter and Reilly Smith. ... Smith became the first Bruin to face his brother in a playoff games since Phil Esposito played against Chicago goalie Tony Esposito in 1975. Brendan Smith plays defense for Detroit. ... The Red Wings are in the playoffs for the 23rd straight time. ... Detroit was 3-1 against Boston in the regular season.