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Wings look to stave off elimination

04/26/2014, 12:35am EDT
By RACHEL LENZI BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Gustavsson will start in net for Game 5 today


Detroit Red Wings goalie Jonas Gustavsson (50) deflects a shot by Boston Bruins left wing Justin Florek (57) during the third period of Game 4 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series. ASSOCIATED PRESS

DETROIT — A supposed goaltending controversy isn’t the issue for the Detroit Red Wings. Staving off elimination is the task at hand when the Red Wings face the Boston Bruins in Game 5 of a first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.

Minutes before Detroit’s 3-2 overtime loss in Game 4, Detroit coach Mike Babcock chose to start Jonas Gustavsson in goal over Jimmy Howard, and plans to start Gustavsson today when the best-of-seven series continues at 3 p.m. at Boston’s TD Garden.

“It’s first to four,” said Gustavsson, who makes his second career playoff start. “It’s not like in the regular season when it’s two points. So you’ve just got to keep going. You’ve got to forget it as quick as possible, take all the positives with you and go to the next game.”

The math now is simple. The Bruins are one game away from advancing in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Jarome Iginla’s goal with 6:28 left in overtime — which deflected off the shaft of the veteran right wing’s stick, bounced off Detroit defenseman Danny DeKeyser and sailed past Gustavsson — pushed the Red Wings a game closer to the offseason.

“You want to get better as a series goes on. We were able to do that in the third period,” Bruins left wing Milan Lucic said. “We’re not taking anything for granted here. We all know how hard it is to close out a series and we all know how desperate they’re going to be heading into Saturday.”

The Red Wings squandered a 2-0 lead in Game 4 and have gotten one goal from a group of young players who were vital in Detroit’s push to reach the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s final seed. Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, Luke Glendening, and Tomas Tatar have one point between them: Glendening’s goal in Game 2, a 4-1 loss in Boston.

Johan Franzen, one of the Red Wings’ top defensive forwards, has been silent both on and off the ice. Franzen has one assist in four playoff games, yet did not speak with the media Friday morning.

"Sometimes he doesn't handle [the media] as well as he should to help himself,” Babcock said. “To me, if you just step right up and you just talk, it makes it easy. When you don't, things build, and I think that puts more pressure on yourself. I don't know why you'd do that, as a human being.”

And, Babcock added, “We need more out of the Mule. It’s simple.”

With the season down to one game, Franzen isn’t the only one who needs to contribute.

“We’re going to Boston to win one game and that has to be our mindset," Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "We have to clean up some areas of our game and just go in there with nothing to lose.”

RASK A FINALIST: Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask was named as one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy, awarded annually to the NHL’s top goalie.

Rask was 36-15-6 this season with a .930 saves percentage, a 2.04 goals-against average, and seven shutouts. In four playoff games, Rask is 3-1 with a .966 saves percentage, a 0.96 goals-against average, and one shutout.

Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop and Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov join Rask as finalists for the award, which will be presented June 24 in Las Vegas.

Contact Rachel Lenzi at: rlenzi@theblade.com, 419-724-6510, or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.

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Tag(s): Pro  Red Wings  Rachel Lenzi