BOSTON -- Hours before puck drop of Game 1 between the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings, Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said it felt like Christmas Day because the Stanley Cup playoffs had finally arrived.
Well, the Red Wings played the role of the Grinch and ruined the night with a 1-0 victory over the Bruins on Friday at TD Garden. In an extremely tight defensive game, Pavel Datsyuk notched the lone goal with 3:01 remaining in the third period to give Detroit the early series lead.
The Bruins knew their first-round opponent was a strong adversary. The NHL-best Bruins learned first-hand this is not going to be an easy series.
The Red Wings know they'll return to Detroit with at least a split in the first two games in Boston.
"Obviously, you want to get in and you want to establish yourself in the series, especially when you're the lower seed," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. "Sometimes the upper seed gets the upper hand right away, you start questioning whether you're good enough. We know we're good enough, but it's one thing to know you're good enough and one thing to show you're good enough. It was important for us to get started in the series so we can continue to get better as a group."
A win in Game 1 against the best regular-season team in the league seems to be a major confidence boost for the Red Wings. In the locker room after the game, the Bruins players were already looking ahead to Game 2.
"It's just one game," said Bruins forward David Krejci. "We have to obviously play a lot better. We have to look at video and make some adjustments. The next game is going to be important. It's a bit different if you go to Detroit 1-1 or 0-2. We have to do everything we can to win on Sunday."
Boston came inches away from scoring first on Friday. Late in the game, Jarome Iginla threw the puck on net as linemate Milan Lucic was busting through the slot and redirected the shot. Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard got just enough of his glove on it to keep it out of the net at 16:32 of the third period.
"It was a fortunate save, it was pretty lucky," Howard said. "He stuck his stick out and got a lot on it and it just sort of spun my glove and I was just able to get enough on it. I was pretty lucky."
Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask wasn't so lucky on the ensuing play.
In transition, Datsyuk received the pass and took a shot from the high slot that found its way in at 16:59 to give Detroit the lead, and the Red Wings held on for the win.
"Well, that's how it goes most of the time," Rask said. "One team has a chance and doesn't score and then the other team just capitalizes on the second chance. But what can you do? You just got to battle back and try to get the next one."
Entering this series, the one focus was Detroit's speed against Boston's size and strength. Game 1 was back and forth, but both teams maintained stifling defense.