The Predators outplayed the Wings for a solid chunk of the game, but the Wings capitalized when it counted with a late game-winning power play goal from Mathieu Schneider. Manny got his second career playoff start for the Wings, with 27 saves on 28 shots.
The Wings had a strong opening five minutes of the first period, but lost their jump thereafter. 22 seconds in, sleeper Brendan Shanahan was called for interference on Scott Hartnell. The Wings had a chance shorthanded, but Kris Draper was taken into the net as he crashed the net looking for a pass. The penalty kill was short-lived, as a Jeremy Stevenson interference call at 0:54 negated the Pred’s power play.
With the teams at four men apiece, the Wings dominated the play. Hull had a chance, and Lang used his size to outmuscle a few Preds and got off a good shot on Vokoun. The Wings had a 32-second power play, with pressure sustained from the 4-on-4.
At the six-minute mark, the Wings had the Preds outshot 4-0. After the Game 1 fiasco, with the Predators scoring on their second shot off a rebound, Manny was strong on their first two shots. Steve Sullivan had a wrap-around shot on Manny, with Chelios left burned on the coverage.
At 9:10, Tomas Holmstrom was caught blatantly holding Shane Hnidy when the two were fighting for the loose puck. The Preds had a sustained pressure in the Wings’ zone. Their best chance came on a through-the-crease shot that was just centimeters from going off the back of Manny’s skates and into the net. Coming off the power play, the Predators were on an 8-1 shot run with 7:55 left in the first. During this stretch, the Wings played physical but lacked an offensive jump.
At 14:48, Shanahan was called again, this time for obstruction-hooking on Scott Walker. The Wings killed the penalty off with ease, and had a 2-on-1 chance, Maltby getting off a decent shot on Vokoun. With under a minute left, Darren McCarty had a big hit at center ice on Johansson, loosening a few fillings for sure. Shots in the period were 9-8 Predators.
The Wings opened the period strong, as they did in the first. Hall had a nasty hit on Chelios, his stick catching Cheli in the face. At 2:16, David Legwand was called for obstruction-tripping on Mathieu Schneider. The Wings had a good chance from a Nicklas Lidstrom point-shot. Pavel Datsyuk had a huge chance in the last minute of the advantage, but failed to get the puck on goal with Vokoun caught out.
At 5:45, Robert Lang opened the scoring for the Wings, assisted by Brendan Shanahan and Tomas Holmstrom. On the play, Shanahan controlled the puck one-handed behind the net. He fed it out to Lang out front, who poked it on with two guys covering him. It was another example of Lang’s physical play leading to a goal. It was also neat to see Vintage Shanahan using his strength to fend off the opposition and one-hand the puck. 1-0 Wings.
After the goal, the Predator’s turned their offensive pressure back on. At 8:09, Chris Chelios got caught roughing Jordin Tootoo. It was a bad play by Cheli to give the Preds another power play. The Wings killed the penalty, but Mathieu Dandenault was called for tripping Greg Johnson a second before the penalty expired. On the penalty kill, Manny was solid, making a good save off a point-shot deflection. Ray Whitney had a shorthanded breakaway chance, but Vokoun stoned him, leaving the puck on the goal line shortly before a Pred cleared it away. Gary Thorne called Ray Whitney (#41) “Dandenault” (#11) as he broke in, and he might has well have been. It’s disappointing to see Ray miss on such good chances, especially when he’s shooting rockets at Manny’s head in practice, much to our chagrin.
At 12:41, Vladimir Orszagh scored, assisted by Martin Erat. On the play, Chelios was burned for the second time, leaving Erat and Orszagh breaking in 2-on-1 with only Lidstrom left. Erat passed the puck across to Orszagh, who made a good move on Manny and beat him. As the puck crossed the line, Orszagh’s face crashed into the right post, knocking the goal off its moorings. The goal was not Manny’s fault, and came down to Chelios’ blown coverage on the breaking Preds. 1-1 tie. The ABC crew played up the Orszagh goal, showing his face smash into the post a dozen or so times.
At 14:49, Shane Hnidy was called for holding Lang’s stick. On the penalty kill, the Preds had a good shorthanded chance. Hull also had good chance off a pass from Pavel, but Vokoun made the save. At 17:26, Brendan Shanahan, the goat-of-the-game if it weren’t for his two assists, was called for his third penalty of the game as he roughed up David Legwand. On the play, Shanny gooned Legwand with a crushing check up high. Luckily, the Wings killed the penalty off. Shots in the period were 13-12 Wings.
The Wings were sloppy in the first six minutes, making bad passes and lacking offense. 7:30 in, the Whitney / Zetterberg / Yzerman line created a big flurry of offense, cycling the puck, but failing to convert. At the 9-minute mark, a Lang dump in shot from inside center ice almost beat Vokoun, as the puck slid by the post. A minute later in the shift, Lang walked in on Vokoun uncontested, had the puck on a string, but failed to convert on a wrist shot that went high over the net.
At 11:19, Shane Hnidy was called for roughing Darren McCarty. The Wings came into the man advantage 0-for-8 on the power play, but that went to 9 as the Preds killed it off. At 16:35, Scott Hartnell cheapshoted Chris Chelios, but the referees were kind in calling it interference. I felt that this was a must-score chance for the Wings, if they wanted to escape with a win in regulation. I was surprised that Coach Lewis didn’t call a time-out at this point, to “rally the troops” and remind them that an overtime period would not bode well with the game tomorrow afternoon in Nashville.
Nevertheless, the Wings scored at 17:15 on a point shot from Mathieu Schneider, assisted by Nicklas Lidstrom and Brendan Shanahan. On the play, the Schneider point-shot hit the back boards and went in off a sprawled Vokoun, who had dove out in an effort to better see the puck. It’s an example of traffic flustering a goaltender and leading to a goal. It was also an example of the Wings getting lucky on a fluky goal. As the puck inched across the goal line, Lang kept Timonen from sweeping it out. So a third assist definitely goes to Lang, giving us another example of his use of a physical presence leading to a Wings goal. 2-1 Wings.
Vokoun was pulled at 18:40, and McCarty had a chance to score a slam dunk empty net goal, but was mauled from behind at the last second. Shots in the period were 7-7, also tied for the game at 28 apiece.
I felt that the Wings were luckily to get the win, as the Predators outplayed them for much of the game. It came down to a strong outing by Manny and the Wings capitalizing on their chances (with a little luck at the end) to walk away with the win. In the postgame interviews , Associate Coach Barry Smith also sounded disappointed in how the Wings played. The Wings played decently well, but can’t expect to win another like this against the Preds, who host the next two games in Nashville.
Quote of the Game: (paraphrased)
“If the game was played in a phone booth, he would score a million goals”
–Bill Clement on Steve Sullivan’s apparent zero-turning radius.
Notables: Lang’s goal and assist in Game 1 made for his fourth career multi-point effort in the playoffs….The Wings have 29 power play goals in their last 29 games versus the Predators….The Predators have 267 cumulative games of playoff experience to the Wings’ 2,286….Brett Hull has 23 game-winning-goals in the playoffs, second only to Gretzky’s 24….The Wings dominated the faceoffs in Games 1 and 2: 84-47….Schneider’s goal was his first playoff goal in 11 years, dating back to 1993. It was the game-winning goal for Game 2….The Wings led the NHL with 89 third-period goals in the regular season, and have a 4-0 advantage this series….The Easter Sunday game in Gaylord Entertainment Center will be the first playoff game in that arena. The Wings have to expect that the Preds fans will be jacked up for their first playoff game….The three stars for the game were Robert Lang (1 goal), Manny Legace (solid with 27 saves), and Tomas Vokoun (26 saves, but giving up the game-winner with under three minutes left in the third)….The Wings are 1-for-10 on the power play this series…..Kimmo Timonen was given a 10-minute misconduct after play expired….Rivers, Mowers, Devereaux, and Williams were healthy scratches, and Woolley is still out with a sore back. ABC listed Hasek (groin) as an absentee, but that’s a mere formality with Dom out for the season and possibly re-retired….Shanahan was the only multi-point getter with two assists….The Wings won 39 faceoffs to the Preds’ 21.
(Editor: Here are the lines from yesterday’s game, courtesy GWB)
4 on 4-