He scored his first career playoff goal 10:35 into the game, just over three minutes after Justin Florek’s fluke goal gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead on their first shot at 7:28.
They finished the first period with 18 shots on goalie Jimmy Howard after managing just 25 in losing Friday night’s opener 1-0.
Game 3 of the best-of-seven series between the top-seeded Bruins, who won the Presidents’ Cup with an NHL-high 117 points, and eighth-seeded Red Wings is set for Detroit on Tuesday night.
“You never want to lose Game 1,” said Florek, a rookie who had just one goal in four regular-season games. “I think we played with a little chip on our shoulder.”
Luke Glendening cut the lead to 2-1 at 13:20 of the second period before Milan Lucic scored late in the second and Chara added his power-play goal early in the third.
Boston’s power play was much improved this season, finishing third in the NHL at 21.7 percent. And Smith scored just 20 seconds after Boston’s two-man advantage ended.
“Getting pucks to the net was obviously a big factor, especially (after) last game not scoring a goal,” he said. “We’re not getting too many pucks to the net at the start and you have a five-on-three and you’re able to fire as many as you want. So that definitely changed the pace of the game and we benefited off of it.”
When the Red Wings had the extra skater, they never threatened.
“It seems like we got hesitant and we weren’t as assertive as we normally are,” Detroit forward Daniel Alfredsson said. “That’s been one of our strong suits ... setting up in the other team’s end.”
It wasn’t just Detroit’s special teams that struggled.
“I thought we were ineffective, period,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “They were engaged. They won the battles. They were quick. We were slow.”
Florek, filling in for the injured Chris Kelly on the third line, scored after Howard and defenseman Brendan Smith, Reilly’s brother, missed connecting on a pass.
Howard came out of his crease to collect a loose puck and passed it toward Smith, who was skating back along the right boards. But the puck bounced off Smith’s right calf and into the circle where Florek shot quickly before Howard could get back.
“It’s a bad break,” Howard said. “It got them rolling a little bit.”
It was Florek’s first career playoff goal. He also did a good job killing penalties, one of Kelly’s strengths.
Smith made it 2-0 after Howard stopped Patrice Bergeron’s shot from the blue line with several Bruins in front of him. Loui Eriksson poked the puck between Howard’s legs. Smith then skated behind Howard and tapped it in.
Glendening positioned himself in the right spot, just in front of Boston goalie Tuukka Rask to score his first career playoff goal.
Darren Helm’s shot from the top of the right circle hit Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk’s stick just in front of the crease. The puck went up, hit Glendening in the chest and got past Rask.
The Bruins’ top line, which had struggled, restored the momentum about five minutes later on a well-coordinated play.
Lucic carried the puck into the middle of the offensive zone as Jarome Iginla cut behind him. Lucic dropped the puck for Iginla and continued toward the net where he received a return pass across the slot from Iginla. Lucic’s hard shot from five feet hit Howard’s stick and trickled over the goal line at 18:16.
Lucic was fined $5,000 but not suspended Saturday for spearing Detroit defenseman Danny DeKeyser during the opener.
Chara finished the scoring at 2:27 of the third period just 17 seconds after Kyle Quincey was penalized. Iginla passed the puck from low in the right circle and the 6-foot-9 Chara, standing to the left of Howard, knocked it in.
At the end of the first period, Chara and Brendan Smith, 7 inches shorter, stared each other down but didn’t fight.
Chara “wouldn’t be the first guy I’d choose to go against,” Reilly Smith said of his brother. “So maybe he’ll probably think twice next time”
NOTES: Boston’s David Krejci appeared to score an empty-net goal with 2:10 left, but Lucic was ruled offside. ... Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller returned to the lineup after missing the opener with an undisclosed issue. ... Pavel Datsyuk, who scored the only goal in the opener, had one shots on goal, none in the first two periods. ... Three Bruins regulars missed their second consecutive game, Kelly with a back problem, left wing Daniel Paille with a head injury and defenseman Matt Bartkowski with the flu.