Boston Bruins

Feb 9, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) and Detroit Red Wings defenseman Patrik Nemeth (22) battle for the puck during the first period at Little Caesars Arena. (Tim Fuller/USA TODAY Sports)

By Ty Anderson,

The Detroit Red Wings are in the midst of what can only be described as an egregious tanking season.

Entering Sunday’s game, the Red Wings were dead last in wins (13), points (30), and their minus-97 goal differential was by far the worst in all of the National Hockey League. To be honest, they’re ‘leading’ these categories by a country mile, too. They’re a nightmare, and it’s really all part of Steve Yzerman’s long-term plan for Detroit.

But after another victory over the Boston Bruins, this one by a 3-1 final at Little Caesars Arena, it’s become clear that this is a group tanking against everybody except the league-best B’s.

In Detroit on the second leg of a back-to-back that started with a 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes back at TD Garden, the Bruins pummeled Red Wings netminder Jonathan Bernier with tons of shots. They even had a 5-on-3 stretch, but their shots and power-play chances proved fruitless, and the sides entered the first intermission at 0-0.

Red Wings forward Brendan Perlini broke the matching zeros with his first of the year, scored off an assist from Adam Erne, and at the 2:07 mark of the middle frame. (It was actually Perlini’s first goal as a Red Wing, too.)

Chasing after Bernier and Co., the Bruins appeared to tie things up behind a Brad Marchand deflection off a David Pastrnak shot through Bernier with seven and a half minutes remaining in the second period.

But an offside challenge from Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill proved to be successful, as Patrice Bergeron (who had nothing to do with the play) was still in the process of exiting the playing surface upon the zone entry. This was hardly a cut-and-dry review, by the way, as it took entirely too long for this officiating crew to make a decision.

It even sparked a snarky tweet from the official Twitter account of the B’s.

But the B’s didn’t let the no-goal deflate them, and instead responded with a putaway from an activated Torey Krug — and off a tremendous pass from Pastrnak — just 33 seconds into the third period for Krug’s eighth goal of the season.

But the 1-1 reset would be short lived for the Black and Gold, thanks to an Andreas Athanasiou power-play snipe at the 7:10 mark of the third period and then an Athanasiou empty-net marker with just 29 seconds remaining in regulation.

The Bruins had their looks before the empty-net goal, of course, with perhaps none better than a Charlie McAvoy to Chris Wagner attempt that Wagner just missed putting through Bernier (39 saves) to tie things up at 2-2.

Tuukka Rask finished with 17 stops of 19 shots faced in the losing effort. Rask, mind you, was supposed to get the day off after starting yesterday’s contest, but was forced into action after an apparent illness left Jaroslav Halak in the Boston locker room.

Brandon Carlo returned to the Boston lineup after missing Saturday’s game for personal reasons, while Johnny Moore remained in action thanks to the two-game suspension Jeremy Lauzon was hit with prior to puck drop.

Danton Heinen, meanwhile, returned to the lineup after missing the previous four games (one missed to injury and then three straight healthy scratches) and finished with three shots in 12:02 of ice-time.

While the loss snapped what was a six-game win streak for the B’s, this was also Detroit’s fifth straight win over the Bruins dating back to last season. It’s an Original Six rivalry that’s come with its fair share of swings, too, as the Bruins had rattled off seven straight victories over the Wings prior to the start of this five-game slide.

After three separate sets of back-to-backs over the last nine days, the Bruins will get a slight breather before they return to work on Wednesday night at the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.