Staying on Top

Brendan Shanahan scored three goals for his second hat trick of the season and the fifteenth of his career, to help the Red Wings defeat the Nashville Predators, 6-3.

The Predators opened the scoring 6:19 into the game. Stu Grimson shot the puck from behind the net, and it deflected off the stick of Chris Chelios and over Dominik Hasek's shoulder for the goal.

The Wings answered just under a minute and a half later. Mathieu Dandenault passed the puck cross-ice from the blue line up to Shanahan by the net, and Shanahan was able to rifle it past Nashville goalie Mike Dunham.

The Predators got a chance to go on the power play with 8:56 left in the first, when Shanahan was sent to the box for holding. However, the Red Wings got two shorthanded scoring opportunities; first a two-on-one with Brett hull and Steve Yzerman, and then a breakaway by Sergei Fedorov, but Dunham came up with big saves both times.

Detroit didn't get a power play chance until 7:33 into the second period. David Legwand hit Chelios in the face with his stick, and was sent to the box for four minutes. Chelios, meanwhile, went to the locker room for sutures on the deep cut on his nose and forehead. The Wings were able to capitalize on the power play opportunity when Shanahan scored again, taking a pass from Fedorov and firing hard from the left point, while Tomas Holmstrom screened the goalie. There was some confusion at first as to whether the goal belonged to Shanahan, or whether Holmstrom had tipped the puck in, but it was finally awarded to Shanahan.

Chelios was stitched up and back on the ice in the third period, just in time to see Kris Draper give Detroit a 3 to 1 lead by picking up a well-aimed pass from Kirk Maltby, squeezing right between two Nashville defensemen, and faking out Dunham for the goal.

The Predators didn't even consider giving up. Cliff Ronning scored twice in a row. His first came 4:32 into the period, off a rebound from Greg Johnson's shot. His tying goal came with nine minutes left in the game. He knocked down Igor Larionov, grabbed up the puck, and took off down the ice, managing to fool Hasek with a faked pass.

Maltby broke the tie only eighteen seconds later. He took a pass from Darren McCarty and one-timed the shot right past Dunham and into the net.

Draper added his second goal of the night with just over four minutes left to play, when he and Nicklas Lidstrom got a two-on-one rush up the ice. Draper passed to Lidstrom, and Lidstrom passed back, giving Draper the chance to put the puck behind Dunham.

Detroit really put the game away with 1:41 left in the game, while Nashville's Cale Hulse was in the penalty box for tripping. Chelios banked a shot off the back boards and up to Shanahan, waiting patiently by the goal for just such an opportunity to flip the puck into the net.

Detroit's power play was two for three against Nashville, even though the Predators have the second best penalty-killing percentage in the NHL. Hasek was able to make twenty-nine saves against thirty-two shots, while Dunham blocked twenty-five of thirty-one shots. Shanahan is currently second in the league in both goals and points, and leads the league in penalty minutes.

The Red Wings will take a short road trip to play against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday before returning home for four more games.

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