BOSTON — Detroit Red Wings goalie Jonas Gustavsson didn’t find out he was playing Monday until starter Jimmy Howard tried to warm up but couldn’t go because of a bruised hand.
Given the late nod, Gustavsson, playing for the first time this season, saw his teammates play well in front of him and did the job in the Red Wings’ 3-2 matinee victory over the Boston Bruins.
“It was a great challenge. It was a lot of fun,” Gustavsson said after making 28 saves in the win.
“Monster (Gustavsson) did a great job coming in there. He played a great game for us, so he deserves all the credit today.” said Howard, a former University of Maine star who handled only two shots in practice and called himself “probably just day to day.”
Stephen Weiss and Daniel Cleary scored 1:40 apart in the second period, and the Red Wings (4-2) killed a two-man disadvantage for 1:54 in the third period en route to their second road win in three days.
The Red Wings were playing their second game in Boston in 10 days and made up for a lackluster effort in the 4-1 Oct. 5 loss.
Coming into the rematch, Detroit coach Mike Babcock said, “Let’s get started on time and play the way we’re capable of,” and his team then did just that.
“They embarrassed us last time in here,” said Cleary. “We kind of came in making sure we were ready, obviously Howard went out early, and I thought Gustavsson played real well for us.”
The Bruins, who had several shots on and wide of the net during the two-man edge, went 0-for-5 on the power play, while the Red Wings didn’t get a single chance, something that wasn’t lost on Babcock.
Milan Lucic (No. 3, 100 career) scored with 1:20 remaining in the game, after the Bruins had failed on another power play. Boston then pulled goalie Tuukka Rask and did plenty of buzzing in the Detroit zone, but to no avail.
“The guys did a really good job,” said Gustavsson. “You really feel the difference when you have skilled players like (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Henrik) Zetterberg, they’re so calm with the puck.”
After Zetterberg (No. 5) and Boston’s Loui Eriksson (No. 2) traded first-period goals, Weiss converted a pass from Johan Franzen for his second goal, at 8:21 of the second period. Then, it was Daniel Alfredsson (five assists with his new team) to Cleary, who scored his first of the season at 10:41.
The Bruins had trouble with defensive coverage on all three goals.
“They don’t need much space to make things happen, so for us, we got to tidy up,” said defenseman Torey Krug. “Just because you’re a stick-length away from a guy doesn’t mean you got him covered. Obviously, they’re going to be making good plays. They’re a very creative, very disciplined team. Credit to them; they made their chances count.”
The first Bruins goal was a deflection off Eriksson’s knee on a flip shot by defenseman Johnny Boychuk.
“We’re really struggling with our finish right now and the pressure of scoring goals,” said Boston coach Claude Julien. “It’s not coming easy and the game in Columbus (a 3-1 win Saturday) it took us awhile to get going and obviously Colorado (a shutout loss), so I think our goal-scoring confidence is probably not where we’d like it to be right now.”
Rask, who had allowed one goal in each of the first four games of the season, wasn’t given much help on the Detroit goals. He made 24 saves.
Datsyuk, who went around Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara to set up the Zetterberg goal, was brilliant throughout for Detroit.
The Red Wings, new to the Eastern Conference, have joined Boston in the Atlantic Division and already played their two games in Boston.
NOTES: Bruins center, coach, GM and legend Milt Schmidt, 95, dropped the ceremonial first puck, as the club, in its 90th season, honored the teams of the 1940s. … The Bruins embark on a three-game road trip to Florida, Tampa Bay and Buffalo, while the Red Wings host Columbus Tuesday night, a game changed to an 8 p.m. start because the Tigers play the Red Sox in Detroit at 4:07. … These two Original Six teams played for the 581st time, and they are separated by 10 goals in their all-time series. They play in Detroit Nov. 27 and April 2. … Detroit RW Jordan Tootoo was OK after taking a two-hand slash to the hand from Philadelphia’s Chris Newberry Saturday night. … Julien attended Sunday night’s wild Red Sox game, which followed the Patriots’ crazy comeback against New Orleans. “It was pretty neat,” he said Monday. “What a day for Boston fans, right? When you look at the Patriots game ending which I heard on my way to the Sox game, to witness that comeback last night was pretty awesome.” … Bruins RW Shawn Thornton played in his 500th game.