It was only a matter of time.
The Red Wings had suffered three rather embarrassing losses at the hands of the Nashville Predators so far this season, and it was time for that to change. Jason Woolley and Kris Draper both had a pair of goals to add to Detroit’s 6-0 rout of Nashville.
The Red Wings knew it would be important to get off to an early lead so as to prevent the Predators from closing down into their defensive trap. Draper obliged with 7:34 gone in the first period, grabbing the rebound of a shot by Steve Yzerman, dragging the puck to the right of goalie Tomas Vokoun, and slamming it into the net.
Woolley increased the lead to 2-0 near the end of the period. Vokoun had been out of the net to tussle with Ray Whitney in the corner, and Whitney flipped the puck out to Woolley before Vokoun could get back and set. Woolley faked a shot, then wristed the puck high into the top corner of the net.
The Predators tried to come on strong for the second period, but tonight they were no match for Curtis Joseph, who acrobatically stopped Rem Murray on a point-blank shot early in the frame. Nashville outshot Detroit 11 to 6 in the second, but Detroit came away with the only goal of the period. When Kimmo Timonen was sent to the penalty box for charging, Nicklas Lidstrom responded by blasting a shot from the right point for the power play goal.
Woolley’s second goal of the night, early in the third period, looked much like his first, only this time Vokoun was screened by Draper and Jason York instead of scurrying back to his goal crease. Chris Mason came off the bench to relieve Vokoun at that point.
Mathieu Dandenault made an excellent play to set up Draper’s second goal of the night. He carried the puck into the zone up the left wing side, danced around a Nashville defender, and made a sharp pass across the goal crease. Draper had the blade of his stick down on the ice, waiting to tap the puck past Mason.
Whitney finished off the game with 3:32 remaining, getting the rebound from a shot by Woolley.
Joseph made 26 saves for his second shutout of the season. Vokoun made 13 saves on 17 shots before being pulled, and Mason stopped 8 of the 10 shots he faced.
The Red Wings next game will be the first of a home and home against the Boston Bruins, Wednesday night at the Joe.
This was Draper’s 700th NHL game…. It was also Woolley’s first two-goal game since April 2, 2001…. Pavel Datsyuk was named the NHL’s offensive player of the month for December.