The Detroit Red Wings scored three goals in the third period to bounce back from an early 1-0 deficit against the Nashville Predators Wednesday night, allowing Detroit to take a 1-0 series lead over Nashville and win Game One of a first round playoff series for the first time since 2001.
The Predators got on the board just 16 seconds into the game. Former Michigan State Spartan Adam Hall fired a shot from in the slot that was stopped by Detroit goaltender Manny Legace but Legace was unable to control the rebound. As Scott Hartnell crashed the net, the puck came loose to Legace’s right and Hall swept in to put it into the net.
Jus 1:15 later, the Predators got a glorious opportunity to take an early two-goal lead. Nashville’s Steve Sullivan broke across the Detroit blue line as Red Wings defender Chris Chelios laid a hook on him. Sullivan broke free of Chelios and got a good scoring chance on the play but was still awarded a penalty shot for the hook at the blue line. Sullivan broke in on Legace and fired a shot that missed the net, leaving the Predators with only a one-goal lead.
Nashville goaltender Tomas Vokoun preserved the lead through the first two periods and the Predators’ defensive play kept the Red Wings frustrated for 40 minutes of play.
The third period was a different story, however, as Detroit’s Kris Draper got the Red Wings; first goal of the game just 37 seconds in. Draper got a lead pass from Kirk Maltby at the Nashville blue line and split the Predators’ defense paring of Brad Bombardir and Mark Eaton. Draper skated in all alone on Vokoun and put a soft shot between his pads, evening the score and reigniting the Red Wings.
Tomas Holmstrom gave Detroit the lead 4:18 later. Trade deadline acquisition Robert Lang passed the puck from behind the net to defenseman Mathieu Schneider at the blue line, who fired a shot on net. Holmstrom reached out and tipped the puck in the slot, deflecting it between Vokoun’s pads and putting the Red Wings up by a goal.
The Predators, who had slipped into a defensive mode of play by the end of the second period, were unable to even the score.
Lang iced the game with 1:45 remaining in the third period. Lang broke around Nashville defenseman Dan Hamhuis to pick up a pass from Maltby in the Predators’ zone. Hamhuis draped himself across Lang’s back, but Lang threw him off before faking out Vokoun and sliding the puck into the net.
Both Legace and Vokoun were making their first NHL playoff starts. Legace made 23 saves on the 24 shots he faced in net for Detroit, while Vokoun stopped 26 of the 29 shots in faced in the Nashville crease.
Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup is Saturday afternoon in Detroit.