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DETROIT — The big news was that Henrik Zetterberg returned to the lineup for the Detroit Red Wings.
Even bigger news was that Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard was temporarily out of commission because of the flu, replaced at the 11th hour by a goalie with no Stanley Cup playoffs experience.
One tangible point overshadowed all of that: Despite the unexpected developments, the Red Wings are down 3-1 to the Boston Bruins in a best-of-seven Eastern Conference playoff series.
Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena, Jarome Iginla’s goal with 6 minutes, 28 seconds left in the first overtime lifted the Bruins to a 3-2 win over the Red Wings in Game 4 of the first-round playoff series
Dougie Hamilton’s shot from the right point banked off the shaft of Iginla’s stick in the right circle, then bounced off Detroit defenseman Danny DeKeyser and sailed past Detroit goalie Jonas Gustavsson, playing in place of Howard.
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Iginla’s goal ended overtime, and the Red Wings now head to Boston facing elimination.
“Those are the goals that are scored,” Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “You look at how most of the goals in the playoffs, there’s not a lot of pretty passing plays. It’s a lot of get the puck to the net, and it’s going to be a greasy one. You’ve got to find a way to find those.”
Kronwall’s power-play goal gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead on a shot from the point at 11:00 of the first period that beat Boston goalie Tuukka Rask (35 saves), who was screened by Todd Bertuzzi.
Kronwall’s goal punctuated a first in which the Red Wings outshot the Bruins 15-5 and killed off a late interference penalty against Brendan Smith, assessed with 2:32 left in the first.
“We didn’t have that much in the first period,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “I just told our guys that we have to get back to our game, and puck management is a big part of our game.”
Less than five minutes into the second, Pavel Datsyuk’s second goal of the playoffs gave the Red Wings a 2-0 lead. Kronwall set up Datsyuk at the side of goal by batting down the puck and slipping it to Datsyuk, who caught Rask out of position and shot into an open net.
But at 10:14, Torey Krug’s blast from the top of the zone off a faceoff beat Gustavsson (37 saves) and cut Detroit’s lead to 2-1 with two seconds left in an interference penalty to Bertuzzi.
Seventy-five seconds into the third, Milan Lucic tied the game at 2-2, and Brad Marchand missed a chance to give the Bruins the lead when his one-timer on a feed from Torey Krug went wide of the goal with less than 10 minutes left in regulation. Then, just before horn sounded to end the third, Justin Florek’s last-chance redirection went wide of the Detroit goal.
“I thought they got better as the game went on,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought we had a real good push at the start. I thought Rask was good and we could have been up more after one, but we weren’t and they stuck with it. As the game went on, we had more holes defensively.”
With less than seven minutes left in overtime, the bounce went in favor of Boston and Iginla, and off DeKeyser and past Gustavsson. And it gave a decided advantage to the Bruins, who now have a chance to close the series Saturday in New England.
“Once we settled down, that got our game back on track and that’s all I told our guys,” Julien said. “It wasn’t about the emotions or anything else other than getting back to our game.”