BOSTON — Frans Nielsen scored his first goal of the season to break a tie with 8:07 left in the third period and Jimmy Howard made 37 saves, lifting the surging Detroit Red Wings past the Boston Bruins 4-2 on Saturday night.
Tyler Bertuzzi and Dylan Larkin had second-period goals, and Gustav Nyquist added an empty-netter for the Red Wings, who improved 11-4-1 in their last 16 games after opening the season with just one win (1-7-2) in their first 10.
David Backes and Ryan Donato had Boston’s goals, and Tuukka Rask stopped 22 shots. The Bruins lost for just the third time in 12 home games this season.
Nielsen, positioned in the slot, tipped Danny Dekeyser’s shot from the left point for his first goal since March 27th.
Howard and Rask nearly squared off during a second-period scrum, but were stopped by the referees.
Trailing 2-1 with the Bruins on a power play, Donato took a perfect cross-ice feed from David Pastrnak and beat Howard with a wrister inside the left post.
Recalled from the minors before Thursday’s win over the New York Islanders after being sent down on Nov. 1, Donato scored the lone goal in the shootout.
The Red Wings tied it 1-1 early in the second period when Bertuzzi tipped a shot over Rask.
They took a 2-1 edge with 2:24 left in the period on Larkin’s power-play goal. Seconds after Anthony Mantha fired a shot squarely off the right post, Larkin scored off a rebound out of a scramble with Rask down in front of the crease.
The Bruins had jumped ahead 1-0 on a gift goal late in the closing seconds of the opening period when Backes backhanded the puck toward the goal from along the boards and it hit Detroit defenceman Dennis Cholowski’s stick before bouncing over Howard into the net.
Play became chippy late in the second period and escalated to both goaltenders leaving the crease and trying to square off during the scrum in front of the benches.
It started when Boston’s Brad Marchand and Bertuzzi were jawing behind play and became heated when Marchand slashed at Howard’s blocker as the goalie was skating off for a delayed penalty. At that point, Howard tried to get at Marchand and Rask attempted skate at Howard. Both threw off their gloves and blockers, but one referee each grabbed a goalie as the rest on the ice paired off without any punches thrown.
NOTES: Bruins D Charlie McAvoy gave an update during the first intermission on his concussion that’s sidelined him since mid-October. “I’m progressing well,” he said. He started skating with the team again in November, but didn’t give any idea when he’d be back, only saying “it’s still a day at a time.” … Boston D Brandon Carlo was back in the lineup after missing nine games with an undisclosed upper-body injury. . Detroit D Trevor Daley was sidelined with a lower-body injury he sustained in the last game. … Boston C David Krejci got up slowly and skated to the bench after a hard hit, but he returned for his next shift.
Red Wings: Host Colorado on Sunday.
Bruins: At Florida on Tuesday, their first of two straight road games in the Sunshine state.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Ken Powtak, The Associated Press