April 25, 2014 at 2:20 am

Gregg Krupa

Great start fizzles for Red Wings as Bruins catch up

Jonas Gustavsson on Game 4 loss
Jonas Gustavsson on Game 4 loss: Jonas Gustavsson was called into action after starter Jimmy Howard went down with the flu.

Detroit — The Red Wings’ ever-so-slender margin for error did not get any larger, with the return, after two months, of their captain and playoff horse, Henrik Zetterberg.

After mounting scintillating first period and leading 2-0, the Wings gave it back to the Bruins Thursday when they could least afford it, in what has been an amazing season.

As has been so often the case throughout a year of transition and injury, they did not do a lot wrong. But it was enough.

They lost, 3-2, in overtime, on a billiards bank shot of a goal that deflected three times before winding up behind the surprise starter in goal, Jonas Gustavsson.

The gaping disappointment came after the Red Wings remedied some major issues with the good start, doubling the number of goals they had scored throughout the whole series in just 24:17 of play, and doubling the number of shots they had in the first period Tuesday in just the first 10 minutes.

But, once again, it was not enough, against superior forces.

Seeing eye goal

Remember when Jarome Iginla played for the Flames and could not score for about a decade in Joe Louis Arena?

Well, all Iginla needed to do was stand there Thursday, and the winning goal — a huge one for the Bruins — bounced first off Luke Glendening’s stick, hit Iginla’s stick on the way toward the net, then hit Danny DeKeyser’s leg and went behind Gustavsson.

“The Monster” had less of a chance than the home guard in eastern Ukraine.

It was the third and mortally final unanswered goal of the game for the President’s Cup winners.

Un-deployment

With a 2-1 led at the start of the third period, the Red Wings yielded lots of ice and time to the Bruins in their zone, right from the start. Then they allowed Milan Lucic to park unguarded in the blue paint and wait for a centering pass from behind the net.

The only defender in sight was Gustav Nyquist, who was left to stand in the line of the pass and to swat at it.

The third period had been a big bugaboo all season. The Red Wings were again way overly cooperative with a team seeking to come from behind against them.

Bruins: Deeply good

The Bruins roster is stacked with talent, offensively and defensively. Their first goal came quickly from the point, after a draw on the power play, at 10:14 of the second.

Patrice Bergeron, named a finalist Thursday for the Selke Trophy for best defensive forward, is among a handful of the best two-way players in the game. Bergeron, the only NHL player to win 1,000 face-offs this season, won the draw cleanly, and it was back to Torey Krug’s stick in a blink and in the net in a flash.

Krug, of Livonia, only demonstrates the depth. He made no mistake with the blast from the point, after scoring 14 goals in his rookie season this year.

The Monster

Gustavsson was called to duty, apparently at about the last moment, with the announcement that Jimmy Howard had the flu.

Somehow, it seemed appropriate — Gustavssson, a spot starter, once again.

He did what he has done all season. He put the Red Wings in a position to win. The thrice-deflected goal seemed a particularly nasty brew to force down The Monster’s throat.

Getting inside

Coach Mike Babcock said the players would have to get inside to beat Tukka Rask and the Bruins. And they responded.

The Red Wings entered the game 0-9 in the series on the power play, and on their second of the first period, Todd Bertuzzi went from the first face-off directly to Rask’s kitchen and made a far better door than window.

Niklas Kronwall let a cannonading shot rip, and it was all bulgy inside the net.

In the second period, the puck was bouncing around bodies in front of Rask and behind him. So, Pavel Datsyuk skated up on to the front porch and waited.

Then he scored.

gregg.krupa@detroitnews.com
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Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk and Boston's David Krejci battle for the puck in the first period Thursday at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. / David Guralnick/ / Detroit News