The world of hockey is full of cliche trite phrases such as, “If we want to win, we have to play hard,” and, “The players all have to be accountable.” The phrases may be overused, but they are usually true, especially the one about, “If we want to win, we have to play a full sixty minutes.” The Red Wings relearned that one tonight, allowing a four goal rally late in the third period to lose 4-3 to the Nashville Predators.
Detroit got off to a good start, opening the scoring just 13 seconds into the game. Nashville goalie Tomas Vokoun held the puck on a long shot in, leading to a faceoff deep in his zone. Pavel Datsyuk won the draw back to Nicklas Lidstrom, who sent the puck across to Ray Whitney at the left point. Whitney shot on net, and Tomas Holmstrom deflected it on its way through for his first even-strength goal of the season.
Martin Erat almost evened the score when he got a breakaway shortly thereafter, but Curtis Joseph made the big save without any trouble.
Kris Draper increased the lead at 7:24. Brendan Shanahan blocked a Nashville clearing attempt at the left point. He passed the puck up to Steve Yzerman, who sent it across to Draper. Draper fanned on his first shot attempt, but he had time for a second one. Vokoun had flopped down to block an expected low shot, so Draper had plenty of room to score.
Shanahan added a power play goal late in the second period. Jason Woolley passed the puck along the blue line, and Shanahan shot it hard. Vokoun was already sliding the wrong way and couldn’t get back in time to block the shot.
Through the first and second periods, the Red Wings had done a very good job of stifling the Predators. They controlled the puck well, beat Nashville to loose pucks, and refrained from turning the puck over in bad situations. They continued the technique into the beginning of the third period. Nashville had come out with more intensity, but Joseph had covered up for his team’s small lapses.
That all changed once Vladimir Orszagh got the Predators on the scoreboard at 6:47. The goal was not a pretty one””Orzsagh beat Jiri Fischer to a loose puck in front of the net to bank it in””but it brought the Predators back to life.
Erat narrowed the gap five minutes later. The Predators had been pressuring in Detroit’s zone. Erat carried the puck towards the blue line, then wheeled and fired. Joseph was screened and had no chance to make the save.
Scott Hartnell tied the game with 3:34 left by crashing the net and whacking at the puck until it went in, then Scott Walker did the unthinkable.
Draper had been sent to the penalty box at 2:33 for goaltender interference, leaving Detroit shorthanded. Dan Hamhuis took a shot towards the net, where Joseph was screened yet again. Walker tipped the shot on its way through to move the Predators into the lead with just 57 seconds left to play.
The Red Wings pulled Joseph from the net for a sixth skater in the dying seconds of the game. Yzerman and Brett Hull both had scoring chances, but Vokoun held them off to keep the win.
The shots on net were tied at 31 apiece. Twenty of Nashville’s shots came in the third period. The Red Wings’ next game will be at home Monday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.
With Mathieu Dandenault and Jason Williams both tending to minor groin injuries, defenseman Jamie Rivers and forward Darryl Bootland made their way into the lineup…. Darren McCarty left the game with back spasms after sliding feet-first into the boards early in the first period. He is scheduled to have x-rays taken on Sunday.