GAME: Detroit Red Wings at Nashville Predators.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference quarterfinal; Red Wings lead 3-2.
TIME: Saturday, 3 p.m. EDT.
After squandering a 2-0 lead in their quarterfinal series with the Nashville Predators, the Detroit Red Wings could have been on their way to another early exit from the postseason.
Their performance in Game 5, however, has them on the verge of advancing to the next round.
Detroit looks to close out its first-round series when it visits Nashville - a place it hasn't had much success this season.
The Red Wings won the first two games of the series at home before moving on to Nashville, where they lost two of three meetings with the Predators in the regular season.
Nashville responded by outscoring Detroit 6-1 in winning both of its home contests to even the series at 2-all heading into Game 5 at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday.
The Red Wings were upset in the first round in 2001 by the Los Angeles Kings and last year by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, so on Thursday, Detroit coach Dave Lewis made some changes to his lineup to avoid moving within one loss of elimination.
Lewis replaced goaltender Manny Legace with Curtis Joseph, and juggled his line combinations hoping to get better results on offense.
The moves worked.
Detroit scored three first-period goals - two off of Pavel Datsyuk's dazzling passes - and Joseph made 19 saves as the Red Wings beat the Predators 4-1 to take a 3-2 series lead.
"We just made some simple adjustments, nothing scientific or anything," Lewis said. "It paid off a little bit."
Joseph, hobbled with an ankle injury for much of the season, made his first playoff start since the Red Wings were swept by Anaheim in the first round last year.
"Our biggest challenge is ahead of us," Joseph said about winning in Nashville.
When Dominik Hasek ended his one-year retirement last summer, the Red Wings tried to trade Joseph. Later, Hasek had a season-ending groin injury and the team decided to keep Joseph, who then went down with an ankle injury.
Legace, a career backup, became the unlikely No. 1 goaltender.
"It has been a different year, no question," Joseph said. "You always want to play. It's a fun time of the year. I've worked hard on the ankle with the trainers for this opportunity."
Nashville goalie Tomas Vokoun saved 82 of 83 shots in the Predators' two home wins, and called the Red Wings arrogant whiners and implied that Detroit wasn't a better team than Nashville.
But on Thursday, Vokoun allowed Henrik Zetterberg, Brett Hull and Brendan Shanahan to score on him in the first 13:18 of the game.
"If we try to play a skill game, they're going to beat us 10 out of 10 times," Vokoun said.
The home team has won each game in the best-of-seven series, and the Predators hope to continue the trend on Saturday. If they win, Game 7 will be Monday at Detroit.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Red Wings - 109 points, 1st seed. Predators - 91 points, 8th seed.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Red Wings - Hull and Robert Lang, 2 goals; Datsyuk, 3 assists; Lang, 4 points; Shanahan, 14 PIM. Predators - Adam Hall and Vladimir Orszagh, 2 goals; Jason York, 3 assists; four with 3 points; Kimmo Timonen, 10 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Red Wings - Power play: 7.7 percent (2 for 26). Penalty killing: 95.8 percent (23 for 24). Predators - Power play: 4.2 percent (1 for 24). Penalty killing: 92.3 percent (24 for 26).
GOALTENDERS: Red Wings - Joseph (1-0, 0.77 GAA); Legace (2-2, 2.18). Predators - Vokoun (2-3, 1 SO, 2.01); Chris Mason (no appearances).
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