Predators 3, Red Wings 1
— Down a goal entering third period Saturday afternoon, the Red Wings were searching for offense.
They had their opportunity — four minutes of power play time midway through the final period — after Nashville defenseman Greg Zanon whacked Jiri Hudler with a high stick off the faceoff.
Detroit mustered just four shots with the man-advantage. The Nashville defense collapsed around goaltender Dan Ellis, preventing any rebound chances and Johan Franzen
from entering the crease for his patented tip-ins.
The chance passed, and the Red Wings lost 3-1 after Nashville added an empty-netter. It was Detroit’s first loss in six games.
Nashville now has 80 points, tied with Vancouver for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot and potentially setting up a first-round matchup with the Red Wings.
The Predators’ defense also got a boost from controlling the puck off the faceoff, winning 56 percent of the draws. Detroit had averaged 54 percent this season.
“And that might have been a big sign in the game,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “You talk about cycle time in your zone — when you don’t win draws, they get behind you and they work you. We didn’t win as many draws as we normally do tonight.”
The Predators (36-29-8) jumped out to a 1-0 lead midway through the first period. Dan Hamhuis drove to the net, shook off a back-checking Franzen, and snuck the puck by Chris Osgood
’s left skate.
jetted down the gut of the ice. Franzen sent him a pass inches off the ice, but Kronwall batted it out of mid air past Nashville goaltender Dan Ellis late in the first period. Franzen now has recorded a point in six straight games.
What seemed like a harmless Nashville dump-in turned into a second Predators goal. Osgood tried to corral the puck for Kronwall but it bounced away from the veteran netminder. Nashville center Rich
Peverley’s snuck the puck into the vacated net, building a 2-1 lead six minutes into the second.
“These things happen,” Osgood said. “We definitely didn’t get puck luck working our way.”
Ellis stonewalled Pavel Datsyuk
, who entered the game on an eight-game point streak. He stopped the hot Red Wings' forward on three point-blank opportunities, including a possible game-tier with just 25 seconds left in the middle frame. Ellis stopped 34 shots.
Mike Babcock said he would start Domink Hasek tomorrow against Columbus. … With Aaron Downey out with the flu, Detroit made an emergency call up of center Mattias Ritola
from Grand Rapids. … Ritola, who celebrated his 21st birthday yesterday, played in his first NHL
game. Brett Ledba and Andreas Lilja have also recently missed time due to the flu. … Tomas Holmstrom
(abdominal), Kris Draper
(groin), Dominik Hasek (back) and Darren McCarty (ribs) missed the game due to injury. Chris Chelios was also a scratch.
|Three star selections