Nashville finds Strength in Detroit; Predators Win 3-2

Take that, Klein haters!

Game 3 of the Detroit/Nashville series started bright and early today with the puck dropping at 11AM; the first game scheduled for the day.

Nashville struggled Friday night on home ice, losing to Detroit 3-2 in regulation and tying the series 1-1. With two games down in Nashville, it was time for the Predators to head north to the Motor City to throw-down in the Joe. However, the Predators last visit in Detroit bounced in their favor, wiping out the Red Wings 4-1. Needless to say, the Predators aren’t afraid of Detroit and its fans, but would it be enough to erase the power play issues from Friday? Here are the highlights from today’s game in Detroit:

KEY POINTS:

  • Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, Jack Hillen, Chet Pickard, Brian McGrattan, and Hal Gill rounded up the scratched list for Game 3, but one surprise was the scratch of Matt Halischuk. In replace of Hali, Jordin Tootoo hit the ice, along with rookie Ryan Ellis.
  • Good thing Shea Weber feeds positively off of negativity, for he sealed the first goal of the game at 2:48 on the power play for his 2nd goal of the playoffs. Every time Weber’s stick would touch the puck, a cascade of “boos” would float amongst the crowd, but Weber quickly silenced them. Andrei Kostitsyn (1st assist) and Alexander Radulov (2nd assist) picked up the assists on Weber’s silencer.
  • Kevin Klein would pick up a goal of his own at 3:50 in the 2nd Period, his first of the playoffs after scoring only four during the season. Martin Erat picked up his first assist of the playoffs, also the first point acquired by the top line of SK74-Marty-Fisher.
  • Pavel Datsyuk would finally get Detroit’s ball rolling at 15:03 with a wrap-around goal passed Pekka Rinne. This was Datsyuk’s first goal of the playoffs.
  • Johan Franzen stopped the hearts of millions watching when he was able to slip the puck by Pekka Rinne, essentially tying the game with under a second left in the 2nd Period. The goal was reviewed and it was clear the clock had run out just milliseconds before passing Pekka, rendering it no good. Whew!
  • Sergei Kostitsyn would sink the third goal for the Predators at 16:30 with a clean snap shot passed Jimmy Howard. Mike Fisher picked up his first assist and point of the playoffs along with Kevin Klein (1st assist) on SK74’s first goal of the playoffs.
  • Henrik Zetterberg would leave fans biting their nails at 19:06 when he was able to put the Red Wings within one of tying the game with Nashville on the power play, but the Predators defense would prove impenetrable, holding the Wings at bay until the final horn sounded to end the game.
  • Call this the Series of the Penalties! Twelve penalties in all, with six penalties for each team, giving both Detroit and Nashville equal power play opportunities. Unlike Friday, Nashville was finally able to snag a power play goal, but Detroit was able to snag one as well. Pointless penalty of the day came from Jordin Tootoo, who was called for roughing after pushing on Henrik Zetterberg. If you’re going to take a penalty, at least get a few swings in first! Here are the other Predators who took some time to reflect in the box:
  1.  David Legwand – 12:53 1st Period – Tripping
  2. Jordin Tootoo – 1:21 2nd Period – Roughing
  3. David Legwand (served by Patric Hornqvist) – 14:33 2nd Period – Interference
  4. Mike Fisher – 17:46 2nd Period – Roughing
  5. Sergei Kostitsyn – 19:49 2nd Period – Hi-Sticking
  6. David Legwand – 18:23 3rd Period – Holding
  • Pekka Rinne blew Detroit away in usual fashion, blocking 41 of 43 shots on goal. Nashville lacked on the shots on net, only attempting 22, but the accuracy was much better and Howard just wasn’t expecting to be taken out on his own ice.
  • Kevin Klein stepped up today, gaining an assist and a goal, only his 2nd playoff goal of his career. Both Kostitsyn brothers picked up points, with Andrei gaining an assist and Sergei collecting a goal. The top line all finally found a groove, with Fisher and Erat both gaining assists and, again, SK74 with a goal. 
The Predators came out swinging in the first period, but the second and third periods left us biting our nails down to the quick. However, a win’s a win and we will take it, especially when it is up in Motown. This win was actually Nashville’s first post-season win in Detroit in franchise history. As “Not Paul Gaustad” said on Twitter:

Follow @PaulsStick on Twitter

The Predators stay in Detroit until Tuesday, taking on the sea of Red at 6:30PM. Although the defense has been doing pretty well thus far, if Hal Gill can return by Tuesday, we believe there’s no stopping Nashville from taking this series.

Until then,
GO PREDS.

(Photo credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Around the League: Two Games & Fired Up

The 2012 NHL Playoffs are in full swing, with every team already playing two games each (minus Florida and New Jersey, who started on Friday).

So far, everyone is tied at one a piece, minus Philadelphia, who holds a 2-0 lead over Pittsburgh, and the Kings, who hold a 2-0 lead of their own over the Vancouver Canucks. Here’s a good layout of how everything is going thus far:

The Panthers and the Devils just had to start on Friday...

We have to say, these playoffs haven’t been boring, with seven overtimes being forced (both Chicago/Phoenix games went to overtime). Along with overtimes and unbelievable comebacks (thanks a lot, Chicago…), it looks like Brendan Shanahan’s going to have a long night…

Detroit fans complained about Shea Weber’s hit on Henrik Zetterberg during Game 1 on Tuesday, but after all of the cheap shots that happened thus far, Weber’s hit looks like a tap compared to the following videos:

Andrew Shaw plows into Phoenix goalie, Mike Smith:


Shaw was immediately ejected from the game. Whether intentional or not, any hit to a player’s head is subject to automatic suspension, which means Chicago may not have Shaw in Game 3.

Carl Hagelin elbow’s Daniel Alfredsson in the head:


Hagelin has his disciplinary hearing with Mr. Shanahan on Sunday.

Matt Carkner’s cheap shot on Brian Boyle:


Scroll to 2:08 in the video where the camera angle clearly shows Carkner’s brutality. Carkner was penalized with a game misconduct, along with Rangers player, Brandon Dubinsky who was trying to defend his fellow teammate.

I'd throw that Gatorade cooler, too.

There was probably plenty of other controversial plays, but it is well passed midnight and we want to go to bed at some point, but you get the fact that these first two games have been awfully interesting. Most of us were thinking the majority of the fights would come out of the Penguins/Flyers match up, but they’ve been relatively quiet (minus the Flyers owning the first two games in the series).

Game 3 starts tomorrow for a few teams, including the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings. For the Panthers and the Devils, Game 2 is just beginning. We will update happenings from around the league throughout the week, so keep checking in!

Penalties Eat Away at Game 1, Predators snag Win 3-2

Alexander Radulov prepares during pre-game practice.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” – No, it’s not Christmas; It’s NHL Playoff time! The Nashville Predators hosted the Detroit Red Wings to Game 1 at the Bridgestone Arena last night in the heart of Smashville amongst a sea of pure gold. For the first game of Round 1 set on the schedule, a lot of eyes were on Nashville and it’s arena. It was clear that the “Keep the Red Out” memo got around town, for there were only a handful a Wings fans floating amongst the gold and blue.

For the first time in franchise history, the Predators topped the Red Wings in points, thus giving Nashville home ice advantage. This isn’t, however, the first time Nashville and Detroit have faced one another in the first round of the playoffs. Nashville and Detroit met in both 2004 and 2008, but Detroit powered through both times, ending the Predators from the get-go. This year is different. Nashville has been predicted over Detroit in almost all circumstances, and for once, the Red Wings find themselves on the underdog side of the fence.

KEY POINTS:

  • Ryan Ellis, Brian McGrattan, Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, Jordin Tootoo, and Jeremy Smith (called up from Milwaukee to back up Peks in case Lindback was still iffy) topped out the scratched list for Game 1. However, one name that surprised many fans was leading penalty killer, Hal Gill. Gill was expected to be scratched and due to that fact, the rest of the defense would have to step up.
  • Paul Gaustad sent the crowd in an uproar at 6:59, his first goal of the playoffs and as a Nashville Predator. Brandon Yip (1st assist) and Francis Bouillon (1st assist) picked up assists on Goose’s goal.
  • Detroit’s Darren Helm left the game during the 1st Period after sustaining an injury after coming in contact with Alexander Radulov. Helm knocked Radulov to the ice, and, in a freak accident, Radulov’s skate flew up and slashed Helm across the arm. Helm left the ice immediately and would end up not returning the rest of the game. Helm’s gash across his arm was deemed surgery worthy, as Radulov’s skate hit some major tendons. Helm’s playoff run is more than likely over for now.
  • Henrik Zetterberg would tie the game at one with a wrist shot passed Pekka Rinne at 2:29 of the 2nd Period on the power play, his first goal of the playoffs.
  • Gabriel Bourque would put the Predators up 2-1 ten minutes later at 12:29 for his 1st goal of the playoffs. Matt Halischuk, who was originally awarded the goal, picked up the assist.
  • Gabriel Bourque would nail his second goal of the night at 11:35 of the 3rd Period, putting the Predators up 3-1 over the Red Wings. Nick Spaling (1st assist) and Patric Hornqvist (1st assist) picked up the assists.
  • Tomas Holmstrom would give Detroit its second goal of the night at 17:53 with Detroit’s second power play goal, but the Predators would run the clock down, sealing the win in their favor 3-2.
  • Although the First Star of the Game was awarded to Gabriel Bourque, Pekka Rinne shined through out the game, blocking 35 of 37 shots on goal, including this one that got him the #2 spot on ESPN’s Top 10:

    Isn’t that chanting of “Pekka” just music to your ears?
  • As stated in the headline, penalties plagued the entire game, with a total of 17 penalties called amongst both teams. Many would say the refs were being extra cautious due to the fact the Big Wigs like Gary Bettman was there, but best believe there won’t be nearly as many penalties on Friday night. The Predators faced ten penalties in Game 1 alone, with Detroit scoring their two goals on two of them. Here are the ten penalty box bummers:
  1.  Brandon Yip – 1:59 1st Period – Roughing
  2. Gabriel Bourque – 8:50 1st Period – Boarding
  3. Roman Josi – 1:10 2nd Period – Cross Checking
  4. Martin Erat – 13:50 2nd Period – Roughing
  5. Patric Hornqvist – 19:54 2nd Period – Hi-Sticking
  6. Roman Josi – 5:06 3rd Period – Hooking
  7. Jack Hillen – 14:52 3rd Period – Interference
  8. Ryan Suter – 16:08 3rd Period – Slashing
  9. Martin Erat – 19:37 3rd Period – Holding
  10. Shea Weber – 20:00 3rd Period – Roughing
  • See that last penalty? If you saw or read any of the highlights from last night, the biggest story was not of the Predators winning or Pekka Rinne’s amazing blocks, but of an incident between Shea Weber and Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg. After the whistle had blown, Shea Weber grabbed Zetterberg’s head and slammed it into the glass, thus putting him the box for the remaining seconds. Wings fans called for suspension, but instead the league fined Shea $2,500, which is A-Okay with us. Of course, Weber better be on his best behavior, for the league probably won’t be as lenient if he were to do something of the sort again. However, the league also has a more level head than fans. Brendan Shanahan, the head of disciplinary actions (who is also a former Red Wing), chose to fine Weber instead of suspending him, clearly since Zetterberg was not injury by the hit. Yes, Weber was in the wrong, but Shanahan is aware that Weber is in no way a malicious player and would not have done this without being provoked. You can clearly see where Zetterberg provoked Shea in this video:

Game 1 is in the books and favored the Predators 3-2, but Friday looms quickly and the Red Wings tempers are rising. Friday will prove to be a little more difficult for the Predators, even if they are at home. Detroit doesn’t want to get swept, and we doubt the will, but they also known that Nashville is clearly the favored team in this match up.

The puck drops thirty minutes early tomorrow, starting at 6:30 rather than 7PM. Be prepared to lose your voice, Preds fans. We’re going to run this town.

Until then,
GO PREDS.

(Photo courtesy of Kristen Jerkins Photography

Predators Power past Detroit 4-1, Gain 4th Position

Alexander Radulov celebrates his 2nd goal since returning to Nashville on 3/22.

Had we not been on the brink of passing out from exhaustion, we would have had this post up right after last night’s game ended because… did you see that Predators team?!

Normally an intimidating and hostile place for an opposing team to visit, the Predators had no fear walking into The Joe last night and taking back the 4th position in the Western Conference playoff race from the Detroit Red Wings. In a nutshell, if the Predators can continue to play the way they did last night, Predators fans better get ready for a long and prosperous post season. Here are the highlights from last night’s game in the Motor City:

KEY POINTS:

  • Martin Erat and Roman Josi were back in the lineup last night, a relieving sign since Marty has been missed on the SK-Fish-Marty line. Hal Gill has been truly missing Roman Josi, for these two have a chemistry only Disney can create. Jordin Tootoo came off the scratched list himself, his upper-body injury proving to be nothing to worry over. Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, Brian McGrattan, and Jack Hillen rounded out the scratched list.
  • The first period remained scoreless, with both Pekka Rinne and the newly-returned Jimmy Howard blocking some key shots on goal. Nashville out-shot Detroit 9 to 7 in the first period, but even though his first game back due to injury, Jimmy Howard was ready to go.
  • Gabriel Bourque was finally able to get the best of Howard at 13:05 during the 2nd Period, sending a wrist shot over the goalie’s shoulder. Jordin Tootoo picked up his first assist since February 28th (24th assist) along with Hall Gill (12th assist) on Bourque’s 6th goal of the season.
  • Francis Bouillon would put even more pressure on Detroit with a wrist shot of his own at 19:27 (ROAD GOO GOOS!). While Detroit’s defense was focused on Alexander Radulov, Frankie was able to sneak in and put the Predators up 2-0 for his 3rd goal of the season. Radulov (3rd assist) picked up the assist on Frankie’s goal, too.
  • Alexander Radulov would out-dance Detriot and Howard once again, sealing his 2nd goal of the season at 2:40 in the 3rd Period. Andrei Kostitsyn (17th assist) and Pekka Rinne (5th assist) picked up the assists on A-Rad’s goal.
  • Detroit was finally able to get one past Pekka Rinne at 16:57 with a wrist shot from Jiri Hudler for his 24th goal of the season.
  • Shea Weber added a nail to the coffin for Detroit at 19:20 with a bouncing empty-netter, his 17th goal of the season. David Legwand (32nd assist) picked up the assist on the captain’s bouncer.
  • Obviously, all of the “Pekka-ing” around town channeled the Finnish goalie, for Pekka Rinne was unstoppable last night (minus one goal, of course). Pekka was able to stop 31 of Detroit’s 32 shots on goal last night, giving Peks his 42nd win. Check out this unbelievable video of Pekka Rinne completely robbing Henrik Zetterberg from a goal.
  • In typical Nashville fashion, the Predators were out-shot 27 to 32, but thanks to Pekka, the defensive lines, and accurate shots, Nashville proved to be the better team last night.
  • Although playing like a Stanley Cup contender would, the Predators had their share of penalties last night. Although only one more than Detroit, it was still more than they needed to risk. Here are the three penalty box buddies:
  1.  Paul Gaustad – 5:42 2nd Period – Tripping
  2. Nick Spaling – 14:04 2nd Period – Hooking
  3. Alexander Radulov – 16:24 2nd Period – Too Many Men/Ice

By coming out in Detroit and embarrassing the Red Wings at home, the Predators not only pushed past Detroit for 4th spot, they also boosted their confidence as they come home tonight to take on the Chicago Blackhawks. Back-to-back games are rough, so the Predators will need to cling to the confidence of last night to take on Chicago tonight.

The puck drops at 7PM in Smashville.

Until then,
GO PREDS.