But Detroit couldn’t beat Nashville's playoff rookie goalie Dan Ellis a second time. And with the seconds ticking down in regulation, Radek Bonk found the puck in a crowd and sent the game to overtime. Instead of visions of heading back to Nashville, Detroit faced the reality of an improbable fourth period.
And then, all of a sudden, it was over.
As quickly as Nashville had tied it late, Detroit resurrected the Joe Louis Arena crowd from silent shock into absolute euphoria.
Nashville’s JP Dumont passed right to Wings' Niklas Kronwall, who sent Johan Franzen in on a breakaway. The Wings' right wing deked left to right before squeezing the puck between Ellis’ skate and the left post.
With the 2-1 win, Detroit takes a 3-2 series lead back to Nashville, the site of Game 6 on Sunday afternoon.
“You're determined,” Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. “You want to make the right play. You're not going to throw it away. We showed that as a team, too. We weren't going to be denied.”
Valtteri Filppula opened the scoring for the Wings just over four minutes into the game. On a 3-on-2 rush, Filppula ripped a shot from the left faceoff dot that deflected off Marek Zidlicky’s stick and past Ellis' glove.
Secondary scoring had been hard to come by for the Wings, who have relied on the 11 points from the top trio of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom. Before Friday, Filppula had gone 11 straight games without a point.
Filppula’s goal held up until the last minute of the third period. Nashville controlled the puck off the faceoff, and Dumont eventually got the puck behind the net, and sent a pass toward the crowd out front. Datsyuk and Zetterberg tried to get there first, but Bonk one-timed a shot past Chris Osgood’s glove with 44-seconds left in regulation.
Osgood, who started his first playoff game since 2001, replaced Dominik Hasek in the second period of Wednesday's Game 4 in Nashville after allowing three goals on 14 shots.
"Some guys always say they need 35 shots but I can play good getting 16 shots or 40 shots, I don't care,” Osgood said. “I do whatever I'm supposed to do. If the puck's in there they can't score, so it doesn't matter to me as long as you win."
At the other end, Ellis turned aside 53 shots in a losing effort. For long stretches, the Red Wings pelted the Nashville net. Point shot, in close or backhand, Ellis didn’t flinch. Midway through the first period, Ellis even used his armpit to prevent Holmstrom from swatting a rebound into the net.
"The biggest disappointment is we wasted that goaltending effort,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “But we forced it to overtime when we probably didn't deserve it."
GAME NOTES: Red Wings center Darren Helm started his first NHL playoff game, replacing Mark Hartigan in the lineup. … Jason Arnott (sick) missed the game. "Jason took the morning skate and was feeling fine,” Trotz said. “When we got on the bus, he wasn't feeling too well. It seems like the flu or food poisoning. Hopefully he'll be fine and ready to go (Sunday).” … Lidstrom played in his 197th playoff game, passing Steve Yzerman for most playoff games all-time for the Red Wings. … The Predators have still never won a road playoff game (0-for-10) in their 10-year existance.