BOSTON – Jonas Gustavsson didn’t have a lot of time to plan for his first action of the season.
Gustavsson didn’t find out until nearly game time that Detroit’s No. 1 goaltender Jimmy Howard was going to be sidelined with a catching hand injury. Then the backup stopped 28 shots and led the Red Wings to a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins on Monday afternoon.
“Maybe 15, 20 minutes before the game started,” Gustavsson said, sitting at his locker taking his equipment off in a nearly empty dressing room following the win. “It felt good. I was excited to play. It’s always fun to go out and have your first game, especially when we have a chance to win.”
And the Red Wings (4-2) had to hang on right until the last second to get their second straight victory.
Milan Lucic’s 100th career goal sliced it to 3-2 with 1:20 to play. With Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask pulled for an extra skater, Boston had the puck in Detroit’s zone for nearly all of the final 80 seconds.
Stephen Weiss and Daniel Cleary scored second-period goals for the Wings. Henrik Zetterberg had the other score.
Loui Eriksson had Boston’s other goal. The Bruins had a two-man power-play advantage for nearly two minutes early in the third period, but couldn’t mount a comeback.
“It looks like we’re feeling the pressure of not scoring goals,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “Our goal-scoring confidence is not where we need it to be and we’ve got to get that straightened out.”
Gustavsson bobbled a few shots in the opening period, but improved as the game went on. He made a pair of stops on Jarome Iginla’s shots from the left point when the Bruins had the two-man edge for 1:54 early in the third period.
“That’s how it is usually in a game,” Gustavsson said. “When you get your first shots on you, you grow into the game. I felt pretty good. The guys helped me a lot to feel good.”
As for Howard, he didn’t think he’d be able to play in the next game at home against Columbus on Tuesday night.
“Doubtful,” he said. “We’re really just going to have to wait and see. Hopefully, it’ll heal fast.”
Tuukka Rask made 24 saves for Boston (3-2).
Boston also had a power play with just under six minutes left, when Daniel Alfredsson was whistled for boarding, but failed to get any good scoring chances.
The Bruins went 0 for 5 on the power play.
“You go through it,” Iginla said of still looking for his first goal of the season. “Sometimes it frustrates you and you do a little too much. There’s no excuse. I’ve been through it before.”
Weiss’ score pushed the Red Wings ahead 2-1 midway into the second period. Johan Franzen fired a pass from the left corner to Weiss alone in front and he beat Rask with a wrister inside the left post.
Detroit then made it 3-1 on Cleary’s goal 2:20 later when he slipped a shot by Rask inside the right post after collecting Alfredsson’s from the side of the net.
The Red Wings jumped ahead 1-0 when Zetterberg took a feed from Pavel Datsyuk midway into the first period. Datsyuk gathered the puck near centre ice after Patrice Bergeron mishandled it, broke in down the middle, shifted around Boston defenceman Zdeno Chara and sent a backhand pass by two other Bruins perfectly to Zetterberg, who redirected it past Rask from the bottom of the left faceoff circle.
Johnny Boychuk’s shot from the right point ricocheted off Eriksson’s knee and by Gustavsson to tie the game at 14:12 of the first.
NOTES: Bruins LW Shawn Thornton played his 500th career game. … Hall of Famer Milt Schmidt dropped the ceremonial first puck. The former Bruin is 95 years old. … The Bruins showed highlights of Tom Brady’s last-minute drive and David Ortiz’s grand slam on the Jumbotron. … Julien said before the game “it was pretty awesome” to be at Fenway Park for Game 2 of the ALCS Sunday night after listening to the Patriots rally against the New Orleans Saints in the car driving to the Red Sox-Detroit Tigers game. … Boston beat Detroit 4-1 in the teams’ first meeting Oct. 5. … Boston opens a three-game road trip at Florida on Thursday before games at Tampa Bay and Buffalo. … Detroit RW Todd Bertuzzi played on the first line for the second straight game.