BOSTON -- The Detroit Red Wings showed how it's done Monday afternoon, building a lead through teamwork and then holding on to it against a Boston team.
Playing a marquee Columbus Day matinee at TD Garden, the Wings left town with a well-deserved 3-2 victory over the Bruins. Some of the Wings had spent Sunday at Fenway Park, where they watched the Red Sox rally past the Detroit Tigers, 6-5, in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series.
The first, second and third lines contributed goals against the Bruins, in that order. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg combined for what, for them, is mundane but is dazzling for others; Johan Franzen fed Stephen Weiss for the second goal, and Daniel Alfredsson and Cleary paired up to give Detroit a two-goal lead halfway through the game.
Surprise starter in net Jonas Gustavsson, filling in as Jimmy Howard nursed a bruised hand while serving as backup, was as good as his teammates. That's especially significant given how much Gustavsson struggled last season.
He gave up goals to Loui Eriksson and, with 1:20 to go, Milan Lucic. That prompted the Bruins to pull goalie Tuukka Rask for an extra attacker, but the Wings held on.
The penalty killers had a great afternoon, too, especially in the third period.
The victory gives the Wings a two-game winning streak headed into Tuesday's game against Columbus and a good start to what will be a busy week, continuing with games at Colorado and Phoenix. After lacking structure in two straight losses last week, the Wings appear to have taken strides starting this holiday weekend.
The Wings came to Boston in much better shape than in their first trip here the previous weekend, when they played the night before and ended up getting run over by the Bruins, 4-1. The Bruins were just as fresh this game -- and had the earlier jump -- but a little magic work by the top line got the Wings a lead midway through the first period.
Datsyuk stole the puck from Boston's Patrice Bergeron, eluded 6-foot-9 behemoth defenseman Zdeno Chara and slid a cross-ice pass beneath Johnny Boychuck to Zetterberg, who turned it into his fifth goal of the season.
The Bruins struck back three minutes later, when Eriksson got a piece of Boychuk's shot, changing the puck's direction too quickly for Gustavsson to make the save. All said, though, the Wings came out of the period having played well in their own zone and having matched Boston shot-for-shot.
The second period was even more productive for Detroit. When Dennis Seidenberg lost an edge, Franzen had enough room and time along the boards to eyeball a perfect pass to Weiss in the low slot. Alfredsson looked as good setting up Cleary: holding onto the puck behind the net, firing the puck backhand to forehand, finding Cleary just outside the crease.
Gustavsson held up his end just as handily, looking especially good during a couple of crease-crowding scrambles.
Some of the Wings' finest minutes came early in the third period, when Niklas Kronwall and Cleary were penalized six seconds apart, giving the Bruins 1:54 with two extra skaters. Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Jonathan Ericsson, Danny DeKeyser and Brian Lashoff did a great job denying chances, and when the Bruins did shoot, Gustavsson looked like a guy he belonged.
(c)2013 Detroit Free Press
Visit the Detroit Free Press at www.freep.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services