Game 3: Wings 1, Preds 3

The Wings let the Predators outplay them for much of the game again but this time they did not get away with it as they lost 3-1 in Nashville. They lead the series 2-1 but looked ineffective today in Game 3. Manny Legace made his third career playoff start and kept the Wings in the game once again, though he wasn’t quite as sharp as he was in the first two games.

First Period
The game started out with a good pace, both teams skating hard and exchanging decent scoring chances in the first couple minutes. Play was fairly physical with the Predators having a noticeably edge in that category because of a number of big hits. They definitely came out with a lot of jump in their first playoff game at the Gaylord Entertainment Center but the Wings pretty much matched them for that early on. Detroit controlled the puck pretty well and generated some good pressure under the auspices of a very vocal Nashville crowd. They were setting up in the Predator zone fairly well, though the set ups usually didn’t last very long and the necessary saves were made by Tomas Vokoun.

Pavel Datsyuk put on a puck possession clinic all by himself around the net about eight minutes in but got nothing to show for it. About a minute later, the Wings went on the power play on a phantom call for which no replay was shown. They had some decent chances but couldn’t convert.

The Predators got a power play of their own at 12:37 when Jiri Fischer made a stupid holding play behind his own net. The Wings killed it off but almost lost Chris Chelios when he got nailed at center by Scott Walker after putting himself in an awkward position. He was down on the ice for a minute before the play stopped but got up and finished the game. Walker took the opportunity to hack Kris Draper with his stick and got away with one.

At 16:37, the Wings got another power play after a good shift by the Zetterberg/Datsyuk/Hull line. The only real chance came in the first minute when Brendan Shanahan sent the puck through the crease to Tomas Holmstrom, who whiffed on it after being slashed. The Predators scored a shorthanded goal on their third shot at 18:23 after Derian Hatcher coughed up the puck at his own blue line in a lame excuse for a pass to Ray Whitney. David Legwand took the puck in all alone and beat Manny straight up, without making any sort of a move. Honestly, I thought the goal was sort of a weak one for Manny to give up considering how un-tricky Legwand was but the bulk of the blame rests on Hatcher’s lumbering shoulders. Way to go, Derian. You still haven’t shown me why the Wings signed you. They must like to provide huge stationary cones for the opponents to skate around in their offensive zone because that’s about all you’ve been so far. Get it together!

The Predators got some serious jump after that and created some good chances for themselves. In the final minute, Manny was forced to make a big save on a 2-on-1 but he didn’t come up big when Adam Hall was left alone at the bottom of the right circle at 19:45 as Hall ripped a shot past Manny’s blocker to make it 2-0. Again, not the best goal for Manny to give up but he was not given the best support on the play, for sure.

The Wings got a little taste of what Nashville has had to go through in the first two games since they mostly outplayed the Preds but still came away short. Shots were 13-5 Wings.

Second Period
This period started out with some up and down play but at a slower pace than the first. The Predators were working hard to shut down the game and maintain their lead. The Wings were sloppy and had trouble getting out of their own zone. They were not playing their possession game and had very little forecheck on an apparent dump-but-no-chase system that did not work. The Predators had an easy job of clearing the puck out of their zone after the Wings’ weak attempts at generating offense. Most of the play took place between the Wings’ blue line and the top of the Preds’ circles. Detroit was not clicking on offense and was trying to be too cute with their playmaking.

Manny came up huge on a 2-on-1 at about 8:30 when Vladimir Orszagh got a shot off but didn’t get full wood on it. The Predators followed that up with a power play but the Wings killed it off through some strong pressure.

The Predators were being very physical, perhaps even bordering on dirty, and were not making if very fun to be a Red Wing, I’m sure.

Manny was solid throughout the period and made saves when he had to, which was pretty often with his defense leaving him out to dry a lot.

Pavel Datsyuk left the Wings bench with 4:25 or so left but soon came back, much to the relief of Wings fans everywhere.

The Wings got a power play near the end of the period but were unable to convert and time ran out without a bang much like the period as a whole. Shots were 7-6 Preds.

Third Period
The Wings got a power play to start the period but did not convert. They lacked jump in the first four minutes anyway.

At about 4:50, Brett Hull had a huge chance to get the Wings within one when he came in all alone off the left wing. He got a shot off but Vokoun made the save and Brett’s efforts on the rebound were equally futile. Pavel missed on a follow up chance but the Wings scored 20 seconds later at 5:21 so it didn’t matter. Brett Hull got the goal from out front after some hard work by Datsyuk and Zetterberg behind the net. Vokoun again made the initial save but Brett got the rebound in to the net to make it 2-1 and give Wings fans hope.

The Wings followed that up with some serious pressure immediately after the goal but couldn’t tie the game. Things opened up considerably after that and both goalies had to make some good saves in order to maintain the score. Ray Whitney had a chance in all alone but, as has been the case too much recently, he was stoned on the play.

The Wings had to kill off another Brendan Shanahan penalty at 9:13 but luckily had a solid Manny Legace in net who was solid throughout some sustained Preds pressure. Steve Sullivan got hurt on the power play when Mathieu Schneider needlessly slashed him across the back of the legs in front of the net while the puck was at the point. He had trouble getting off the ice and was incensed with the refs for not calling anything. I agree with him. Schneider had no reason to do such a thing and really got away with one there.

Henrik Zetterberg had a good chance after the power play but Jiri Fischer’s shot about a minute later was where the Wings were really robbed by the hockey gods. The shot was only slowed down by Vokoun and was slowly heading towards the goalline when Greg Johnson swept it away just as Pavel Datsyuk was about to help it along. That was hard to watch.

After that, the Preds just iced the puck repeatedly. The Wings got a huge chance off the third icing’s ensuing faceoff but could not finish the deal.

Scott Hartnell ended all scoring at 16:03 when he took the pass from Adam Hall in what amounted to a 2-on-1 even though Chris Chelios was standing within range of Hartnell. Manny had no chance on the redirection and was once again left out to dry by his defense. Cheli really blew it on the play and I have no idea what he was thinking in leaving Hartnell all by himself. The defensive pairing of Hatcher and Chelios did not have their best game, that’s for sure.

The game ended with the Wings on the power play and with an empty net but because they took their sweet time in setting up (showing almost no sense of urgency), they came away empty handed. Shots in the third were 23-9 Wings for a total of 42-21 Wings.

I’m getting rather tired of watching the Preds get away with murder when Tomas Holmstrom is involved in the play. Homer’s reputation as a diver only goes so far and the refs have really turned their backs on the mugging he’s constantly getting

… Chris Chelios has really been taking a beating throughout this series and it’s starting to affect his play, I think. With the Preds apparently taking runs at him, I’d like to see the Wings be a little more retaliatory and stop letting Nashville get away with everything

… I’d like to thank the fans of the Nashville Predators for defining classiness today in their first playoff appearance ever. Cheers like “Red Wings… Red Wings… Red Wings… You suck!” are truly examples of how fans should act as well as being completely correct. The President’s Trophy winners obviously suck, anyone can see that. (Note: Written with extra helpings of sarcasm and disgust) First impression of Predators fans: Similar to Avs fans. I’ll leave it at that.

… The Wings’ third period shutout streak ended today but they have outscored the Preds 5-1 in the final 20 minutes of play. Not bad, guys. Now let’s see some more scoring in the other two periods as well. I’d also appreciate a solid 60 minute (or even 55- or 50- minute) effort.

… Nick Lidstrom had to have stitches sewn in his hand after taking Vladimir Orszagh’s skate to his palm in yesterday’s game on the Preds’ only goal. Fortunately it didn’t seem to affect his play much.

… They got away with it in Game 1 and they got away with it in Game 2. They did not get away with it in Game 3 and they won’t in Game 4. It’s time for the Wings to stop letting themselves get out played and to start showing us they are capable of winning the Cup again because so far, I have some serious doubts. I don’t know what the deal is but they’d better figure it out soon or else they will find themselves down 3-2 in a series going into Game 6 like they did in 2001.

Here is the boxscore.

(courtesy GWB)




6 on 4PP-Legace pulled-




Manny Legace