DETROIT - Of course, they do, but it's not looking good.
The Detroit Red Wings had a solid start Thursday night in Game 4 against the Boston Bruins, scoring the first two goals of the game to take what looked like a commanding 2-0 lead in a series which hasn't seen a ton of goals from either team.
The Red Wings outshot the Bruins 15-5 in the opening period. They were the better team for a full 20 minutes -- arguably the best 20 minutes they've played this series. Jonas Gustavsson's spot start was working out. You couldn't ask for much more from a guy who didn't know he would be playing until minutes before the game. He robbed Brad Marchand with a desperation stick save in front of a gaping net -- Marchand would miss a wide open net later in the game.
Everything was going the Red Wings' way. All four lines were rolling. They were getting all the puck-luck. They scored on the power play after going 0/9 during the course of three games. New fathers Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall both had goals and assists.25661170
They were living right.
And the Bruins were obviously frustrated. Kevan Miller went to the box midway through the 2nd for roughing up Justin Abdelkader, who was a pesky presence all game. Marchand could have gone to the box, too, for his cross check to Henrik Zetterberg. Things couldn't get much better for the home team at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings were going back on the power play with an opportunity to go up 3-0, but Todd Bertuzzi's interference penalty ended that hope. The Bruins made him pay, even if their power play was just a handful of seconds. Somehow Torey Krug's shot from the top of the circle found its way in before Betruzzi could get out of the sin bin.
Things change quickly in playoff hockey.
The Bruins were alive and well. The Red Wings probably were happy to get out of the 2nd period up 2-1. Then, the resilient Bruins struck very early in the 3rd thanks to a defensive breakdown by the Wings. Milan Lucic couldn't have been more open in front of the net.25661166
The Red Wings suddenly became a team chasing the puck and struggling to find balance and control. The Bruins were waiting to strike and getting plenty of chances to take the lead. Gustavsson held strong, but it wasn't going to last forever.
Puck-luck changes, too, especially against a seasoned playoff team. It shifted to the Bruins' side in overtime. Jarome Iginla's seemingly harmless shot from the wing had eyes. The game was over in a flash, and the Red Wings' hopes for a first-round upset seemed all but lost.25661152
They will head back to Boston in a deep hole.
Game 4 showed us a relatively young Red Wings team with a lot to learn. Blowing multi-goal leads was a theme throughout Detroit's season, so it's no surprise it happened again in the playoffs. Losing in extra time also had become a familiar downfall all season for the Red Wings.
If the Red Wings want to join the elite few who have overcome a 3-1 series deficit (remember, Chicago did it to them last year), they will have to play near-perfect hockey. They can't afford turnovers in the defensive zone or any kind of defensive breakdowns whatsoever. Power plays will have to be executed and penalties will have to be minimal.
Gustavsson will be back in net on Saturday while Jimmy Howard still suffers from the flu. He will have to shine again.
To have a chance at pushing this to a Game 7, the Red Wings need to play like they did in the 1st period of Game 4 for the rest of the series.
It's a tall order, but it's not impossible and they're gaining experience every game, every shift.
It's do-or-die now.
Game 5 is 3 p.m. Saturday on NBC, Local 4.
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