Detroit forward Darren Helm returned from injury only to suffer a new one, leaving Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup between the Red Wings and the Nashville Predators before the Predators earned a 3-2 win.
Helm missed the final ten games of the regular season with a sprained MCL. Tuesday’s playoff opener was his first game back but he cut his forearm on Andrei Kostitsyn’s skate in the first period and immediately left the ice.
He was taken to Vanderbilt Medical Center for unspecified surgery during the game. Detroit head coach Mike Babcock would later say “We don’t know to what extent or how severe, if any tendons or anything were cut we don’t know but it was pretty severe.”
The Predators were already up by a goal when the injury happened. At 6:59 of the period, Paul Gaustad threw the puck from the left corner to the front of the Detroit net, where it deflected off defenseman Brad Stuart and past goalie Jimmy Howard to make it 1-0.
Detroit got on the board at 2:29 of the second period. Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne knocked aside a Niklas Kronwall shot from the blue line but Henrik Zetterberg got to the loose puck and knocked it in behind Rinne for a power play goal.
The Predators regained the lead with 7:31 to go in the second when Matt Halischuk’s long shot deflected off the outstretched stick of Gabriel Bourque and floated past Howard.
Bourque added another with 8:25 left in regulation, snapping a shot over Howard’s glove after he was left all alone in the slot.
Tomas Holmstrom knocked home a loose puck from the edge of the crease on a power play with 2:07 remaining to make it 3-2 but the Red Wings would be unable to tie it, even with a late six-on-four manpower advantage.
The Red Wings finished the night with two goals on eight chances with the extra attacker. Nashville was scoreless in six power play tries.
Howard finished the night with 23 saves on 26 shots while Rinne stopped 35 of 37 shots.
In the closing seconds of the game, Nashville captain Shea Weber grabbed Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg by the sides of his head and slammed his face into the glass, earning a two-minute roughing penalty. The NHL has yet to announce whether they will review the play for a possible additional penalty.
Game Two between the teams will be Friday night.
The Red Wings scratched forwards Gustav Nyquist, Jan Mursak, Chris Conner and the injured Patrick Eaves, defenseman Jakub Kindl, and goalie Joey MacDonald.