The Detroit Red Wings failed to capitalize on their home ice advantage by dropping Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals to the Nashville Predators 3-2 at the Joe Louis Arena.
With the loss, the Red Wings now trail the Predators 2-1 in this best-of-seven series. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg scored the team’s goals and Jimmy Howard stopped 19 of 22 shots and took the loss.
Pekka Rinne was a stone wall as he made 41 saves, with 18 of them in the third period, while Shea Weber, Kevin Klein and Sergei Kostitsyn found the net for the Predators.
After 12 straight Red Wing penalty kills in the series, the streak ended when Howard made a save on Sergei Kostitsyn, but Weber was right at the doorstep to pick up the rebound and put it on the top shelf, giving the Predators a 1-0 lead early in the first period. If it weren’t for Howard making some key saves in the first period, the Predators might have went to the locker room with a 3-goal lead.
Klein gave the Predators a 2-0 lead at 3:50 of the second period when he did a nice Bobby Orr impression; he started the rush from his own zone and passed the puck over to Martin Erat. Klein got the puck back and burst himself into the Red Wings’ zone, making Brad Stuart look silly in the process and used a wrist shot to beat Howard on the glove side.
Datsyuk got the Red Wings on the board when he stole the puck from Predators’ defenseman Roman Josi from behind the net and scored on a wrap-around to make it 2-1. It was Datsyuk’s first goal of the playoffs and it was one that the team needed.
The Red Wings threw everything, including the kitchen sink, at Rinne, but they couldn’t find the net. One of their better chances was early in the third period when Drew Miller and Cory Emmerton went in on a two-on-one, but Klein got back to his own zone and blocked the shot.
The Predators regained their two-goal lead when Sergei Kostitsyn went in on an odd-man rush and used a wicked snap shot, beating Howard on the stick side to make it 3-1 with 3:30 left, sending some of the fans home early. But there was still some hockey left and with David Legwand in the penalty box with 97 seconds left in regulation, the Red Wings pulled Howard for an extra skater, making it 6-on-4. The strategy worked when Zetterberg scored from the right face-off circle with 51.9 seconds left, making it a one-goal game, but that’s how it stood.
Maybe it’s just me, but wasn’t today’s game a repeat from Wednesday, but played at a different building and less penalties were called? Oh, and nobody’s head was rammed into the glass… just checking.
The way to beat Pekka Rinne is to shoot high; or perhaps the Red Wings should take a page out of Mr. Fuji’s handbook and throw Fuji Salt at the Predators’ netminder. He was downright clutch for the Predators, especially in the third period. I have to be blunt, especially being a Red Wings fan: goaltending performances like Rinne’s wins playoff series.
Howard played a good game, but he probably should have had the third goal that he gave up. He should know that there’s little room for error in the playoffs. I didn’t like the Klein goal simply because he split through the defense. Stuart put in a little hook, but it didn’t matter.
We need to see more of Johan Franzen on the ice scoring goals rather than spending time in the penalty box. He took two penalties in the middle stanza. One of them was when he reacted to spearing David Legwand (who was on the bench and swiped him first).
Shea Weber got the villain’s reception by receiving the chorus of boos every time he touched the puck at the Joe Louis Arena and will get that for some time… that is unless he decides to sign with the Red Wings this summer. Yes, it could happen because Weber will become an RFA (Restricted Free Agent) on July 1 and if he does sign with the Red Wings (or any other NHL team besides Nashville), it would cost said franchise multiple first-round draft picks, depending how how much he’ll sign for and for how many years.Weber for three or four first-round picks? How about five?
Let me ask a pivotal question: would you accept Shea Weber as a member of the Red Wings? As a fan, I would accept him wearing the winged wheel. He’s only 26 and he’s one of the top blueliners in the NHL, and with Nicklas Lidstrom’s pending retirement (whenever it will be), it would be a great coup for the Red Wings organization. If you think that you’ll still boo him if that were to happen, you’re only fooling yourself (i.e. Chris Chelios in 1999. ‘Nuff said).
Enough of the wishful thinking, because there’s still plenty of hockey yet to be played and the next date between the two teams is this Tuesday at the Joe for Game 4. Let’s hope that the Red Wings play like they did in the second half of today’s game for a full 60 minutes and go back to Nashville with the series tied.
About the Author: Alex lives in Hockeytown, USA. He is a huge Red Wings fan going back to the 1985-86 season when they were dead last with 40 points. He has seen the transition from the 'Dead Wings' to one of the top franchises in sports. You can also follow him at twitter.com/alexmuscat73.