BOSTON — The goal-starved Red Wings came out determined to score. It didn’t take long.
Todd Bertuzzi and Danny Cleary scored on Detroit’s first two shots in the opening 3:10 and the aggressive Red Wings dominated the lethargic Boston Bruins 6-1 on Friday night.
The outburst followed three losses in four games in which Detroit was outscored 12-4.
“We played with a lot more sense of urgency,” Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “You could tell from the puck drop that we wanted to score. I think it showed that we were going after pucks and getting pucks at the net.”
The Bruins seemed content to observe their opponents.
“We watched them because I think we were flat,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “We weren’t skating tonight. We were second on the puck, and even when they had the puck I just felt that they had lots of time to make plays. We were very slow reacting.”
Bertuzzi scored two goals, Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler each had a goal and two assists and the Red Wings had three goals in the second period after David Krejci scored for Boston late in the first.
Despite their second loss in six games, the Bruins remained three points ahead of the second-place Canadiens in the Northeast Division. Detroit increased its lead in the Central Division to seven points over the Nashville Predators, who beat them 4-1 on Wednesday night.
“We think we’ve got a good hockey team,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said, “but we weren’t playing like a good hockey team.”
In the loss to Nashville, Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard left after allowing four goals on Nashville’s first 16 shots. The Red Wings avoided their third shutout in four games when Ruslan Salei scored with 3:58 left in the second period. But they were booed off the ice by their home fans after that game.
“It was a bit of an eye-opener for us,” Howard said. “That’s not the way we want to perform for our fans. They deserve better.”
The only goal he allowed Friday was Krejci’s first in 21 games, but the Red Wings regained control in the second period when Jiri Hudler, Zetterberg and Bertuzzi all beat goalie Tuukka Rask.
Rask played his second game in the Bruins’ last eight. They beat the Montreal Canadiens 8-6 with the NHL’s top goalie, Tim Thomas, in net. On Friday, Thomas replaced Rask to start the third.
“I deserved to get pulled,” Rask said.
By the time he left, the Red Wings led 5-1 with 3:22 remaining in the second.
“I think everyone just needed to go out and play and stop thinking,” Bertuzzi said. “I think when we’re at our best we’re relaxed, we’re calm and we’re just letting the play happen.”
Bertuzzi began the scoring when he took a pass from Zetterberg and scored off the right post. Just 2 minutes later, Cleary scored his 17th goal of the season on a pass from Hudler, who fed the puck from behind the net and into the slot where Cleary had gotten behind defenseman Dennis Seidenberg.
Rask received a mock cheer when he made a routine save about four minutes into the game.
Krejci scored his eighth goal on a power play. Zdeno Chara’s shot from the right point went wide to the left of the net, where Milan Lucic collected it then passed to Krejci in the slot.
A nice pass from Zetterberg set up Hudler’s sixth goal at 1:09 of the second period. Detroit’s scoring leader made a backhand pass from the left circle to Hudler, who one-timed the puck past Rask from the right corner of the crease.
The game settled down with neither team scoring for more than 15 minutes. Detroit then scored twice within 24 seconds for a 5-1 lead.
Zetterberg’s 17th goal made it 4-1 at 16:14 of the second when he ended Detroit’s 0-for-18 power-play streak. Then Bertuzzi got his 10th goal at 16:38 as Rask mishandled a puck to his right, leaving it behind the net. As Rask scrambled back toward the crease, Bertuzzi shot the puck off the back of the goalie’s pad and into the net.
“When you don’t have your legs and when you have a team like that that has very good puck control possession players and defensemen that really move the puck well it makes you look flatfooted,” Boston’s Mark Recchi said.
Tomas Holmstrom finished the scoring with his 12th goal on a power play with 6:09 left in the game.
“They played their game,” Boston forward Patrice Bergeron said. “We weren’t even close to playing half of what we can play.”
Notes: The Red Wings hadn’t played in Boston since Nov. 29, 2008. They’ll host a rematch with the Bruins on Sunday afternoon. … Bertuzzi’s second goal was his 700th career point. … Krejci’s goal was his first since he scored two at Florida on Dec. 27. … Bruins F Tyler Seguin, the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, was a healthy scratch.