Three Questions: Wings-Predators
DRW.com's Michael Caples analyzes the Wings' 54th game
With the Predators climbing back into the game, Henrik Zetterberg provided the knockout punch three minutes into the third period. The Wings jumped out to an early three-goal lead, but it was Zetterberg’s tally that made the game 4-2 and finally out of reach for the Predators. The eventual game-winning goal was all started by Brian Rafalski, who made a half-ice pass from behind his own goal to Dan Cleary. Cleary made a great play by taking the hit and redirecting the puck towards center ice, where Zetterberg grabbed the puck and took off toward the Nashville end. Cutting to the right side of the slot, he protected the puck then fired a backhander to the far side of the net, beating goaltender Pekka Rinne to the left post. It was Zetterbreg’s 20th goal of the season, and it turned out to be the game’s biggest play.
What was the top statistic of the night?
If you missed the first period, then you missed a franchise record. The Red Wings fired shot after shot toward the Nashville goal, and finished with 27 – the most in team history for a first-period total. In only seven minutes, Detroit had recorded 13 shots, and held Nashville to zero. When the period ended, the Predators had only recorded eight shots. The Wings did so by winning faceoffs and controlling the puck, and it resulted in them out-shooting the Predators, 51-21. The Wings ran into a hot goaltender, who made 47 saves, but they still got the victory by firing shots until they beat him enough.
Who were the Wings’ players of the game?
I already mentioned their line once, but the Zetterberg-Cleary-Pavel Datsyuk combination played well Tuesday night. Zetterberg scored two goals and picked up an assist, and Datsyuk had the same numbers. Cleary did his job as well, mucking it up as a net-front presence. He is the man responsible for the game’s first goal, as he worked his way into Rinne’s vision so Datsyuk could rip the puck into the back of the goal. Cleary's assist on Zetterberg’s goal gave the line seven points - not bad for one 60-minute game.