By LARRY LAGE/AP Hockey Writer
DETROIT (AP) – Tuukka Rask finished with a 23-save shutout to give the Boston Bruins a 3-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night for a 2-1 playoff series lead.
Dougie Hamilton and Jordan Caron scored in the first period, and Patrice Bergeron added an empty-net goal late in the game. The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Bruins are ahead for the first time in the opening-round series. And, it seems like a commanding lead the way Boston has played the past two games.
Detroit has to win Game 4 on Thursday night to avoid facing elimination when the series shifts back to Boston.
Jimmy Howard made 31 saves for the Red Wings, who needed him to make what appeared to be a routine stop midway through the first period on the first goal. He couldn’t.
Hamilton’s wrist shot from the top of the right circle beat Howard’s glove on a power play after Detroit had too many men on the ice.
The Red Wings didn’t have enough players in position to stop the second goal. After a poorly timed line change, Caron was all alone in front of the net and scored off a rebound.
Detroit had a 5-on-3 power play for 35 seconds midway through the second period and could not take advantage.
The Red Wings had perhaps their best chance early in the third period, but Rask made a sprawling stop to get his glove on Justin Abdelkader’s shot. Detroit did not have many other opportunities against Rask, who ended up with his fourth career playoff shutout.
Detroit had a power play midway through the third period and got only one shot to Rask, whose teammates prevented the puck from getting to him by putting their bodies and sticks in the way all night.
The Red Wings pulled Howard but failed to dump the puck deep into the Boston end. Bergeron made a long shot into an empty net with 1:59 left to make it 3-0.
Since the Red Wings won Game 1 on Pavel Datsyuk’s goal late in the third period, they have been outscored 7-1.
Detroit did not have one of its top forwards, Daniel Alfredsson, because of a back ailment and is still without two key players, captain Henrik Zetterberg and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson, because of injuries.
Even with all three of those players, Boston simply might be too tough to beat.
The defending Eastern Conference and 2011 Stanley Cup champions are big, strong, fast and talented. Boston proved that during the regular season, leading the NHL with 117 points, and has shown how dominant it can be after losing the closely contested Game 1.
NOTES: Boston had D Matt Bartkowski in the lineup after the flu led to him missing both games in Boston. He replaced Andrej Meszaros, who appeared to be a healthy scratch. … Former Red Wings star Sergei Fedorov attended the game. … Hamilton, drafted No. 9 overall three years ago, scored his first playoff goal and Caron, a first-round pick in 2009, had his first postseason point. … Detroit’s fans jeered and booed Boston F Milan Lucic, who was fined $5,000 by the NHL for spearing Detroit D Danny DeKeyser in Game 1.
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