DETROIT — Towards the end of the first 20 minutes of Detroit’s 4-1 loss to Boston in a first-round Stanley Cup playoff game, Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith took on a tall task. He challenged Zdeno Chara.
At 6-foot-9, Chara’s height may be better suited for the NBA and not the NHL. Detroit needed some sort of spark — any sort of spark Sunday at TD Garden.
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Smith took a few jabs at the Bruins defenseman, who grinned as he and Smith traded punches and smacked sticks, and he encouraged Smith to continue before a linesman stepped in and defused the situation.
It may have shown that, yes, the Red Wings have fight in them. And that they weren’t going to be intimidated. But the punches and jabs meant little, as Detroit lost Game 2 and left Boston with a split of the first two games.
The best-of-seven Eastern Conference series continues at 7:30 p.m. today with Game 3 at Joe Louis Arena.
“You always want to win every game,” Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall said Sunday. “But at the same time, we got one here and we’re headed back to Detroit. We look forward to playing in front of our home crowd.”
Ater Game 2, Kronwall also made a forecast for the series.
“I think it’s going to be a long one,” Kronwall said. “So we’re just going to stay patient and get back to the way we play.”
Former Toledo Walleye center Luke Glendening scored Detroit’s lone goal in Sunday’s loss; Glendening’s first NHL playoff goal cut Boston’s lead 2-1 at 13:20 of the second but the Bruins answered with Milan Lucic’s goal with 1:44 left in the second and Chara’s tally at 2:27 of the third.
The Bruins believed their physicality gave them an edge in Game 2.
"When we play that style of hockey, everybody is going and everybody feeds off each other," Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk told reporters. "It gives us a bit more room out there, too, to try and make plays.
"If we continue to do that, it will help us out."
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock also considered the fact that his team took seven penalties in Game 2 — six in the first period, including a roughing call against Smith at the end of the first. Chara was also assessed a roughing penalty after the scuffle with Smith, but Boston scored two power-play goals and killed seven penalties in Game 2.
“We had four roughing calls,” Babcock said. “We haven’t had four roughing calls this year. So you’ve got to do what you do. Not what they do.”
As for Smith and Chara? Babcock didn’t condone or denounce Smith’s actions after Sunday’s 4-1 loss in Boston. Instead, he sent a message in a series that has already included the NHL fining Lucic, a left wing for the Bruins, $5,000 for spearing Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser between the legs in Game 1.
“I just think you’ve got to decide what you want to do,” Babcock said. “Do you want to play like them or play like us?”