It was another close game, but the Red Wings once again defeated the Nashville Predators with a late goal to take a 2-1 win and move the quarterfinal to Nashville with a 2-0 series lead.
The first period seemed to be a continuation of Game One, marked by strict calling of interference by the referees and a tight goaltending battle between Manny Legace and Tomas Vokoun. Vokoun had to be quick to stop an early power play shot from Robert Lang. Legace held the Predators off with three saves in quick succession against Martin Erat and Vladimir Orszagh.
Lang got the Red Wings on the scoreboard early in the second. Brendan Shanahan circled the puck behind the net and centered a pass. Lang was coming towards the net with Mark Eaton hounding him, but Lang pushed Eaton away just far enough that he could get his stick blade down to the ice to deflect Shanahan’s pass across Vokoun’s goal line.
Orzagh tied the game up with 7:19 left in the period. Chris Chelios was tripped at center ice, allowing Orszagh and Erat to get into Detroit’s zone on a two-on-one rush. Legace was sliding to his left to stop Orszagh, but Orszagh cut hard to his own left, slipped, and slid into the net with the puck. He bumped his head hard on the goalpost, but appeared to be uninjured afterwards.
Both teams came on hard in the third period. The Red Wings and Predators both did a good job of breaking up most attempts at scoring plays by their opponents. Finally, Detroit got their break when Scott Hartnell took a careless penalty for interference in the neutral zone.
Mathieu Schneider, playing the right point as he usually does on the power play, shot the puck hard towards the net. Vokoun was sliding to his left to tussle with Tomas Holmstrom, but managed to deflect the puck just enough to send it wide. Unfortunately for Vokoun, the puck bounced off the back boards, hit his skate, and slid just across the goal line.
Shots on net were even at 28 apiece. Detroit outclassed Nashville on faceoffs, winning 39 of the 60 draws. Game Three of the quarterfinal series will be Sunday afternoon in Nashville.
Observant fans got a bit nervous when they noticed that Nicklas Lidstrom was not on the bench for the final six minutes or so of the second period, but Lidstrom was back out to start the third period. He had been cut when his hand was hit by Orszagh’s skate and had to go for stitches…. Steve Yzerman led all Detroit forwards in ice time, playing 17:11. This, of course, is in spite of many professional hockey analysts’ continued questions about the strength of his knee. Can’t keep a good Captain down at playoff time.