Now Leaving Music City: Wings Win Series With Shutout

Once again, the Red Wings pulled together when it counted, and their opponents weren’t quite prepared to deal with it. The Red Wings struck early to take a 2-0 lead over the Nashville Predators, then they held onto it for the rest of the game to win the quarterfinal series four games to two.

Nashville’s fans were on hand and louder than ever to start the game, looking to cheer their team on to an early start. The Red Wings were able to ignore the fans and take control early. In fact, the fans were calling their now-infamous “Chelios is a wussy” chant when Ray Whitney put Detroit on the scoreboard.

Steve Yzerman made a sharp centering pass from the right corner, and Whitney fired hard from the high slot. The puck was blocked by defenseman Andreas Johansson, but came right back to Whitney. Whitney’s second shot cleared Johansson and sailed past goalie Tomas Vokoun at 1:26.

Yzerman cemented the lead just 30 seconds later. Robert Lang worked the puck out from behind Mark Eaton’s dropped stick along the back boards, held off Eaton with one arm, and centered the puck with the other arm. Yzerman was pushing towards the net with no one to keep an eye on him, and it looked like a relatively simple matter for him to lift the puck up and over Vokoun.

Kris Draper nearly made the score 3-0 shortly thereafter with a shot off a drop pass from Tomas Holmstrom. The puck made it over Vokoun and landed on the goal line, but defenseman Brad Bombardir was able to clear it away before it crossed the line. Nashville called their timeout to calm down after that.

The Predators should have had their best chances to score during the second period, when they had three consecutive power plays, but they simply weren’t able to put their shots on net. David Legwand and Scott Walker both had scoring chances, but their shots went wide of Curtis Joseph. The Red Wings’ penalty killers did a good job of making sure the passing lanes were blocked and letting Joseph see each shot that did make its way through.

Detroit picked up their pressure again in the third period. They weren’t exactly testing Vokoun?they had only six shots on net in the third?but they were controlling the puck, picking off passes, and keeping the Predators from ever getting a clear shot against Joseph.

Nashville’s best chance came when Jason York had a screened shot from the right point, but Joseph was ready with the save.

The Predators pulled Vokoun for the extra skater with nearly two minutes remaining, but it did them no good. The Red Wings continued their careful control and kept the score at 2-0.

Detroit outshot Nashville by a count of 26 to 15. The Wings continued their dominance on faceoffs, winning 43 out of 70.

The Red Wings’ opponent for the Western Conference Semi-Finals could be either the Colorado Avalanche or the Calgary Flames, depending on whether or not the Flames manage to win their series against the Vancouver Canucks. The semi-finals are scheduled to start Thursday.

Yzerman’s goal was his 68th playoff goal, moving him past Gordie Howe into first place as the Red Wings’ all-time leading playoff goal scorer?. This was Joseph’s 16th career playoff shutout?. Game attendance was 17,329, marking the Predators’ largest crowd ever.

Wings Regain Series Lead: Joseph Holds Nashville to One Goal as Detroit Wins

Making his first start of the postseason, Detroit Red Wings goaltender Curtis Joseph stopped 19 of the 20 shots he faced as Detroit defeated the Nashville Predators, 4-1. With the win, the Red Wings gain a 3-2 series lead heading into Game Six.

After dropping two games in Nashville and losing their lead in the series, the Red Wings looked to bounce back early and send the Predators a message. With three goals in the first period, they did just that.

Henrik Zetterberg‘s first goal of the series put the Red Wings on the board just 3:19 into the game. Pavel Datsyuk fought off a check behind the Nashville goal and got to the puck. He sent a between-the-legs pass to Zetterberg skating through the left faceoff circle. Zetterberg, left all alone at the top of the crease, out-waited Predators’ netminder Tomas Vokoun and lifted a shot over him and into the net.

Brett Hull‘s second goal of the postseason came 3:03 later. Along the left-side boards, Datsyuk sent another no-look pass across the ice to Hull, streaking through the slot towards the net. Hull put a quick shot past Vokoun and the Red Wings were up by two.

Brendan Shanahan broke his scoring slump with 6:42 remaining in the period. Shorthanded, Steve Yzerman fought for the puck behind the Nashville net. Shanahan came to help him and got the puck. From behind the goal line, Shanahan banked a shot off the skate of Predators’ defenseman Dan Hamhuis. The puck barely trickled over the goal line to give Detroit a three-goal lead.

The Red Wings second power play goal of the series would come in the second period off the stick of defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. At 9:25 of the period, Lidstrom fired a shot from the left point that went by the screened Vokoun to put Detroit up by four and cap their scoring for the night.

With 38 seconds remaining in the period, Sergei Zholtok scored the lone goal for the Predators. While on the power play, Zholtok fired a shot from the left faceoff dot Joseph didn’t have a chance to stop, as he was being screened by Scott Hartnell.

The Red Wings clamped down on the Predators defensively in the third period, allowing them only six shots.

Vokoun, the MVP of both games played in Nashville, allowed Detroit’s four goals on 31 shots.

The Red Wings have the chance to eliminate the Predators from the playoffs in Game Six Saturday afternoon in Nashville. Game time is 3:00 PM.

Joseph to Start Game Five

The Detroit Red Wings will turn to goaltender Curtis Joseph to help break them out of a two-game slide Thursday night, Red Wings head coach Dave Lewis announced on Wednesday. Manny Legace has started all four of Detroit’s playoff games thus far and is 2-2 in that time.

The Red Wings opened their first round series with the Nashville Predators with two home wins but followed that up with two losses on the road as the Predators evened the series. Joseph made his first appearance of the series in the third period of Game Four, replacing Legace after Nashville scored three goals on just 11 shots.

Joseph held the Predators scoreless on their remaining nine shots as the Red Wings lost.

Joseph was slated to be Detroit’s starting goaltender this season before Dominik Hasek‘s surprise return from retirement in July. Hasek’s return left Joseph on the trade block, but the Red Wings were unable to deal the veteran goaltender.

When Hasek suffered a groin injury in December, Joseph was called back into action. Hasek quit the season in February and Joseph was injured the next game. He spent most of the rest of the season injured and returned just in time for the start of the playoffs, at which point Legace had already established himself as the postseason starter.

Joseph is 0-4 in playoff appearances for the Red Wings, starting all four games as Detroit was swept by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the first round in 2003.

Vokoun Blanks Wings as Preds even Series

Nashville Predators’ goaltender Tomas Vokoun stopped all 41 shots the Detroit Red Wings fired at him Tuesday night as the Predators defeated the Red Wings, 3-0. The first round playoff matchup between the two teams is now tied at two games apiece.

Vokoun’s first career playoff shutout came with some help. A third period goal by Detroit’s Robert Lang was called off when Tomas Holmstrom was judged to have interefered outside of the crease with Vokoun.

The Red Wings put pressure on the Predators early but lost their momentum when a power play was negated by a Brendan Shanahan penalty for holding just before the period’s midway point.

While the teams skated four-on-four, Nashville got on the board with just their second shot of the game. Steve Sullivan took what may have been an offsides pass from Scott Walker and skated in all alone on Detroit goalie Manny Legace, beating him high with 9:16 left in the period.

The Red Wings attempted to come back in the second but could not gain any momentum as they were forced to kill off three-straight penalties starting just 5:32 into the period, when Tomas Holmstrom was cross-checked to the ice. Holmstrom slashed at Vokoun while on his knees and took a punch to the head from Vokoun but only the slash was called.

Shortly after Kris Draper was cut on the cheek by a Nashville stick in a play where no penalty was called, Darren McCarty was sent to the box for interference. He was accompanied by Derian Hatcher, who was given a roughing penalty along with Jeremy Stevenson.

Brendan Shanahan was sent to the box after the McCarty penalty was killed when he sticked a Nashville player in the face while the Predator was on his knees.

After the Shanahan penalty was killed but with a delayed penalty coming up after Steve Yzerman tripped up a diving Jordin Tootoo, Nashville scored their second goal. WIth 5:39 remaining in the second, Legace made a save and covered the puck with his right pad, but Vladimir Orszagh was allowed to pound away and knocked the puck into the net before the whistle was blown.

Greg Johnson scored 2:04 into to the third period to cap the game’s scoring. Legace was pulled in favor of Curtis Joseph, who played the rest of the game without allowing a goal.

Legace allowed three goals on 11 shots. Joseph stopped all of the nine shots he faced.

The series comes back to Hockeytown for Game Five Thursday night, when the Red Wings will look to regain the series lead. Gametime is 7:30.

Preds Take Game Three

The Nashville Predators were able to celebrate their first-ever home playoff game with their first-ever playoff win. Strong goaltending by Tomas Vokoun and the ability to take advantage of some lucky breaks gave the Predators a 3-1 win over the Red Wings.

The Red Wings were undoubtedly the better team early in the game. They skated hard, slipped through the Nashville defense, and challenged Vokoun with plenty of shots on net. They had their best scoring chance of the period during a slashing penalty to Steve Sullivan. Brendan Shanahan threaded a pass across the goal crease to Tomas Holmstrom, but Holmstrom was too well tied up by Brad Bombardir and couldn’t get his stick on the puck.

That same power play, unfortunately, allowed Nashville to get on the scoreboard. The Predators had cleared the puck into Detroit’s zone. Derian Hatcher made a soft back pass to send the puck back up ice, but the puck hit David Legwand‘s skate and stayed in the zone. Legwand was away with the puck, speeding to the front of the net and putting the puck in over the top of Manny Legace‘s shoulder.
Adam Hall made the score 2-0 with only 14.9 seconds left in the period. He picked up the pass from Greg Johnson in the right corner. Mathieu Schneider noticed Hall with the puck and moved towards him, but Hall let his shot go as Schneider stepped into Legace’s sight line.

Nashville seemed content to sit on their lead for the majority of the second period, although Legace was called upon to make big saves against Vladimir Orszagh on a two-on-one rush and Scott Walker on a wraparound attempt. Detroit, for their part, didn’t seem able to muster enough energy to pressure the Predators’ defense.

Brett Hull finally got the Wings into the game early in the third period, at the end of a long shift for his line. Henrik Zetterberg was being held up in the left corner, but he managed to backhand the puck out to Pavel Datsyuk, who tipped the puck towards the front of the net. Hull took two whacks at it, and the second shot deflected off Vokoun’s pads and up into the net.

The Red Wings came out with much more energy after Hull’s goal, but they still didn’t manage to put much traffic in front of the net to screen Vokoun from seeing their shots until very late in the period. By then, it was too late.

Scott Hartnell put the game away for Nashville with 3:57 left. Steve Yzerman was tripped just inside the Predators’ blue line, which allowed a 4-on-2 rush the other way. Hall was able to flip the puck across to Hartnell, who charged the net and banged the puck in between Legace’s skate and the goalpost.

Martin Erat took a holding penalty with 1:56 left to play, and the Red Wings pulled Legace from the net so they could go in six skaters to four, but they were unable to solve Vokoun in the remaining time.

Detroit doubled Nashville’s shots in the course of the game?42 to 21. Game Four of the quarterfinal series will be Tuesday evening in Nashville.

Another Close Win For Game Two

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.