The Nashville Predators were winless coming into tonight’s game, and they were desperate. They were fully willing to take advantage of any slack the Red Wings might give them. They had some key opportunities to do so. Sloppy Detroit defense and an opportunistic Nashville offense led to a 3-1 win for the Predators.
A defensive lapse early gave the Predators the first goal of the night. Andreas Johansson got the puck away from the boards in Detroit’s zone. He managed to deke around Sergei Fedorov, then around Brendan Shanahan, and slid the puck into the net underneath Curtis Joseph.
The Red Wings got their first power play of the game a minute later when Greg Klassen was sent to the box for hooking, and they came back to tie with a crisp passing play. Fedorov held the puck in the Predator’s zone at the right point. He sent it up to Luc Robitaille at the half-boards, and Robitaille passed it to Igor Larionov. Larionov then angled the puck out to Nick Lidstrom, who slapped the puck past Mike Dunham to score his 150th career goal.
Unfortunately, the Predators scored a power play goal of their own less than a minute later, with Kris Draper in the box for high-sticking. Kimmo Timonen shot the puck from the blue line, and Adam Hall tipped it on its way through. With the redirection of the puck and the screen of players in front of the net, Joseph never even had a chance to see the puck before it was too late.
Still the Red Wings couldn’t get their defensive play together, and the Predators took advantage of it again. Andy Delmore got a pass through to David Legwand in the slot, and the rebound from Legwand’s shot was allowed to bounce free to Johansson standing unhindered near the side of the net. Johansson got the puck into the empty space before Joseph could slide across to stop him.
The second and third periods saw the Red Wings tighten their defense somewhat, but not enough to keep Joseph from having to make some spectacular saves. Most notable was a save in the second period against former Red Wing Brent Gilchrist, who got around the net unmolested, took a pass, and flung it at the net. Joseph flung himself across the net so the puck would land harmlessly in his midsection. Joseph also gave the Wings a chance to climb back into the game when he stopped a shorthanded breakaway attempt by Timonen. That time, he dropped his stick to slide across cleanly and keep the puck out.
The Red Wings got a power play with just over three minutes left to play, when Denis Arkhipov was sent out for high-sticking. They even pulled Joseph from the net to go six-on-four for part of the time. They controlled the puck from the start of that power play to the final buzzer, but Dunham came up huge against the barrage of shots, and the Predators came away with their first win of the season.
Dunham stopped thirty-seven of thirty-eight shots throughout the night, while Joseph stopped twenty-seven of thirty. The Red Wings return home for their next game; they will face the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday evening. The Sharks recently signed holdout goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to a contract, so they will be at full strength for this next meeting.
Sean Avery was recalled from the Grand Rapids Griffins, but was a healthy scratch for this game”¦. Brett Hull suffered a severe cut above his left eye midway through the second period when a Nashville player’s skate came up and hit Hull in the face. Hull was led off and given a lot of stitches by Nashville’s team doctor, but he returned to play in the third period. “Just in time for Halloween,” said Hull about the bloody gash on his forehead.