Hard-charging Bruins teach Red Wings a lesson in 5-1 pelting

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — If this was a measuring stick for the Red Wings, playing two consecutive Stanley Cup-caliber opponents, then they learned something this weekend.

The Wings, though improved, still have a ways to go before competing teams such as the Washington Capitals  and Boston Bruins.

The Wings hung with Washington until the final minutes but suffered a gut-wrenching loss. Sunday against Boston, the Bruins gradually pulled away and spanked Detroit 5-1.

Red Wings left wing Tyler Bertuzzi (59) collides with Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy (73) along the boards during the first period Sunday at Little Caesars Arena.

There was a lesson in these two games, specifically Sunday.

"The Washington game, we're in position to win the hockey game," coach Jeff Blashill said. "They're different games. This team (Boston) came in here and played with more urgency level and understanding what is at stake than we did. I don't like using the word desperation but that urgency level is critical and you have to compete like crazy. This is the way it'll be as we go through the month of January.

"They had to make up ground (in the standings) and we want to make up ground. We have to come with a more urgent approach."

BOX SCORE: Bruins 5, Red Wings 1

The Red Wings appear to be brushing off the effects of an almost two-week COVID-19 and holiday break that almost every NHL team is experiencing.

That'll take more practices and games. But the Bruins looked sharper playing their second game in two days, both victories, than the Wings did.

"We were off 12 days and we were finding a good rhythm before Christmas and the COVID break," forward Dylan Larkin said. "We need to find that again quickly."

More: Inability to convert on power play continues to plague Red Wings

The Wings opened the scoring, then saw the Bruins take control, scoring five consecutive goals. That enabled Boston to leapfrog the Wings in the division — and, for what it's worth this early — the wild-card standings.

The Wings have lost six of their last eight games.

Boston's Charlie McAvoy and Trent Frederic scored 1:56 apart early the third period, stretching a 2-1 Bruins lead to 4-1. Then former Red Wing Tomas Nosek closed out the scoring.

Boston goalie Jeremy Swayman stopped 22  shots.

Tyler Bertuzzi scored for the Wings (15-15-3) providing a 1-0 first-period lead with his 13th of the season. But Boston roared back. The Bruins were physical, and the Wings didn't respond as they've done often this season in that part of the game.

"They play hard, they block shots, they're physical," Larkin said. "It was a physical game, like it was against Washington, and I really felt when it got physical we've just kind of been mediocre. We need to push back and have a better push back when it gets to this point."

Patrice Bergeron and Erik Haula added goals for the Bruins (16-10-2).

The Wings hurt themselves on the power play, not being able to convert on four opportunities over the first 30 minutes, before the Bruins ran away.

"(The power plays) could have made a difference," Larkin said. "We just didn't execute, we didn't get shots. We have to come up with more."

Haula broke a 1-1 tie in the second period with his second goal.

He came out of the penalty box and gathered the puck, raced down left wing and blistered a shot from the dot past Alex Nedeljkovic (32 saves) at 7:37.

Danny DeKeyser's shot from the point pinballed off several bodies before landing to the side of Swayman. Bertuzzi had no problem tapping the loose puck near the post into the net at 11:28.

But the Bruins answered shortly after with Bergeron scoring his 11th. Brad Marchand won a puck battle along the boards, got the puck to Craig Smith behind the net, and Smith fed Bergeron driving to the net, at 14:47.

Boston broke it open in the third, capitalizing on Wings' defensive blunders and closing out the game.

"The mistakes we made today weren't from rust," Blashill said. "Again, it was understanding the level of competition that it takes every single days. I didn't think we were ready for the competitive level they came with. That doesn't take rust. It's a maturity level and understanding how hard you have to play every night and that's why they've (Bruins) been so successful for a long time."

A good lesson for the Wings.


Twitter: @tkulfan