DETROIT -- This was the game in which the Boston Bruins established their dominance. If you watched only the first period of Boston's 3-0 win over Detroit on Tuesday night, you'd have a hard time imagining the Bruins losing another game in this postseason. They came out flying, got pucks deep and kept them there with relentless physical pressure, overwhelming the Red Wings and immediately taking the crowd out of it. The Joe Louis Arena crowd so disgusted that boos filled the building as the first period ended.
The other two periods weren't so bad for the Bruins, either, with Tuukka Rask earning his fourth career playoff shutout.
Instead of the home team coming out charging in the first home game of its 23rd consecutive playoff appearance, it was the visiting Bruins who dominated a Red Wings team whose youth is showing.
Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton scored his first career playoff goal in the opening period, skating nearly untouched from his own zone to the right circle before snapping a shot past Jimmy Howard. Jordan Caron capitalized on a poorly executed line change that left the ice wide open for him and Shawn Thornton, who set up the goal.
Two first-period goals were more than enough. It's as many as the Red Wings have scored all series.
"We give them two goals -- any way you look at it, we gave them two goals," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said after the game. "Now, I'm not trying to take anything away from them, because they played well. They were better than us all night long, but we gave them two goals."
When you can hardly manage 20 shots in a game, let alone goals, giving away two can't happen. But if they didn't score on those, the Bruins had other opportunities. With the score close, Boston controlled 63.6 percent of the shot attempts, a dominant possession performance from a team that's been doing it all season.
Now it's happening in the playoffs, too.
It took a scare last year in the first round for the Bruins to find their game en route to the Stanley Cup finals; another scare doesn't look necessary this time around. They're playing their game right now.
"I'm not really trying to compare previous playoffs with this season. It's still early," captain Zdeno Chara said. "We always try to focus and take pride in our defensive game. We take a lot of pride in the defensive game."?
While some teams feed off a pretty pass or an impressive goal, this is a group that feeds off defense. Like killing a 5-on-3 during the second period when the Red Wings were starting to overcome the Bruins' dominating start. Or killing a third-period delay of game penalty in Detroit's last real opportunity to get back in the game. One stop after another and the defensive confidence snowballs. On the other side of the ice, the confidence is zapped.
The Bruins' stingy defense can do that to a team, especially on the PK.
"It's important. As much as a goal," said Patrice Bergeron, who assisted on the game winner and scored an empty net goal to seal it. "Defending and doing the right thing, sometimes it gives you the momentum you need. I thought we did that -- even the 5-on-3 -- but also that huge kill at the end."