The Nashville Predators were at the end of a seven game roadtrip, and they were weary. The Red Wings on the other hand, were in the middle of a five game homestand in which they had thus far tied with the Stars, been shutout by the Blackhawks, and finally squeaked out an overtime win over the Bruins. They were ready to play to win, so they did just that, and gained a 4-1 victory over Nashville.
The Red Wings definitely outplayed the Predators in the first period, outshooting them by a count of 16-6, but goalie Mike Dunham was sharp in his net. The Predators were able to open the scoring just before the period ended. Darren McCarty was in the penalty box for holding, and Nashville’s power play unit took advantage of their situation. Vladimir Orzagh pushed to the net with the puck. Martin Erat trailed close behind. When one of the Red Wings’ defensmen poked the puck away from Orzagh, Erat got it in the confusion and threw it back into the tangle of feet. The puck pinballed off the skate of Chris Chelios, past Curtis Joseph, and into the net.
Brendan Shanahan tied the game up for the Wings early in the second period. Sergei Fedorov’s shot rebounded to the right side. Shanahan scooped it up and shot it from a tight angle. Dunham was still trapped at the other side of the net, and the puck went in high under the crossbar, ending Shanahan’s nine-game goal drought.
After that, the game belonged to Detroit. Fedorov scored a goal on a breakaway set up by Shanahan to give the Wings the lead before the period was over. He got in ahead of defenseman Bill Houlder, and his shot bounced off the goalpost, off Dunham’s skate, back off the goalpost, and finally into the net.
The Predators made a few attempts to get back into the game in the third period, even after the Wings went up by two goals. Nashville gave up the puck in their own end. McCarty got hold of it, spun around, and flung it at the net. Dunham was partially screened by Kirk Maltby, and the puck bounced off a skate to change direction on the way in. Dunham didn’t have much of a chance.
Nashville tried to make the most of a power play they were given when Jesse Wallin was penalized for delay of game, for covering up the puck with his body after a strange scramble left Joseph out of position. The Red Wings’ penalty killers took the play to them instead, giving them no chance to score against Joseph.
A slashing penalty on Scott Hartnell gave the Wings their opportunity to put the game out of reach for good. Pavel Datsyuk passed from behind the net to Fedorov on the right side. Fedorov’s shot was blocked by Dunham, but the rebound squirted straight to where Shanahan waited on the left side. Another quick one-timer from another tight angle, and the score was 4-1 to end the game.
The final tally of shots on net were 38-23 in favor of Detroit. The Red Wings will end their five game homestand on Friday night when they host the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
This was Curtis Joseph’s first ever victory against the Predators. He has a 1-2-1 lifetime record against them…. Sean Avery has been sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins to play in a few conditioning games…. Jiri Fischer left the game in the third period with a knee injury. An MRI has been scheduled.