Klein-tastic Preds take series lead…
The Nashville Predators defeated the Detroit Red Wings early on Sunday 3-2 to take a 2-1 lead in the best of seven Western Conference Quarterfinals Series. This was the Preds 1st playoff victory at Joe Louis Arena in 7 attempts.
Nashville came out skating hard & playing a perfect road game to start what had become a best of 5. The Preds strong start earned them a power play & just 2:48 into the game, D Shea Weber slammed home a rebound for his 2nd goal of the series to give his team a 1-0 lead. The goal was very significant because the Preds were 0-12 in the series after having the #1 ranked unit in the NHL during the regular season. Nashville continued to skate hard & carried the play for most of the period, even though they were outshot 11-9.
The 2nd period began with Nashville continuing to play a solid road game with crisp passing & solid puck movement. At 3:50 of the 2nd period, Preds regular season leading scorer Martin Erat hit D Kevin Klein with a perfect pass to spring him for a breakaway where he finished strong with a shot over the shoulder of Red Wings Goalie Jimmy Howard to give Nashville a 2-0 lead.
Preds rookie Defenseman Roman Josi had his pocket picked by one of the best in the league. Detroit F Pavel Datsyuk slid in behind the net & stole the puck from Josi clean, & inserted it into the net before Nashville Goalie Pekka Rinne had a chance to react to cut the lead to 2-1 with 4:57 remaining in the 2nd period. This simple play seemed to wake up the Wings as they barn stormed the Preds for the rest of the period earning a power play on a terrible play by Sergei Kostitsyn with only 11 seconds remaining. Detroit came within 1 tenth of a second from scoring as the period ended before a shot by Johan Franzen could cross the goal line.
To begin the 3rd period, the Wings had a carryover of 1:49 worth of man advantage time but were unable to convert. Detroit again was storming into the Preds zone & getting a lot of pucks on the net & this is when Rinne took over. Detroit would out shoot Nashville 19-4 over the last 20 mins & Rinne would stop all but one.
The credit for that one save goes to Klein who was able to get his stick on a shot by Cory Emmerton stopping the puck from going into a wide open net with 5:41 remaining & preserving the narrow 1 goal lead. Then Klein chipped in again offensively with 3:30 remaining when he started a rush that ended with a Sergei Kostitsyn goal on a 2-1 rush.
The Preds were desperate & on their heels again despite having a 3-1 lead when David Legwand took his 3rd minor penalty of the game at 18:23. With Howard pulled for the extra attacker & a 6 on 4 advantage, Wings F Henrik Zetterberg carried the puck in from the side boards & pulled a great head fake while shooting the puck over the shoulder of Rinne at 19:06 to make the score 3-2.
The Preds were able to hold off the Wings attack for the remaining 54 seconds & secure a victory in one of the toughest buildings in the NHL. The Preds did what they had to do to survive & win a playoff game on the road & now take back home ice advantage. The Preds are back in Detroit for game 4 on Tuesday night 6:30 CT.
D Hal Gill has missed the first 3 games of the series against Detroit. He is listed as day to day after being hit in the foot with a shot before the end of the regular season.
The bottom line…
-The Nashville Predators lead the Western Conference Quarter Final Best of 7 Series Vs Detroit 2-1.
-In the Western Conference Playoffs #8 LA leads #1 Vancouver 2-0, #2 St Louis & #7 San Jose 1-1, #3 Phoenix & #6 Chicago 1-1.
-The Predators remain in Detroit for game 4 on Tuesday with faceoff set for 6:30 CT.
-D Kevin Klein was outstanding with 22:58 in time on ice, 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 2 shots on goal, 2 hits, 1 blocked shot.
-F Mike Fisher had 1 assist in game 3 & also led the team in hits with 5.
-D Shea Weber scored a Goal & had 4 shots on goal, 3 hits, & led team in time on ice with 27:06.
-F Sergei Kostitsyn had a shot on goal & it went in! That was his 1st of the playoffs.
-G Pekka Rinne was outstanding in net again with 41 saves on 43 shots.