Western Conference Quarterfinals: Game Three
Photo: Detroit News
Nashville Predators defeat Detroit Red Wings 3-2
For the team that was nearly flawless at home in the regular season, the Detroit Red Wings’ first home game of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs was a letdown.
The Wings lost their mometnum as the Nashville Predators prevailed by a familiar score of 3-2.
The Predators now lead the best-of-seven series 2-1.
“We did lots of good things, their goaltender (Pekka Rinne) was good,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock. “We just have to come back and get after them at the start of the game to the end of the game, like we did (Sunday) in the later half.”
Shea Weber saw a special welcome from Wings fans playing at Joe Louis Arena for the first time after he smashed Henrik Zetterberg’s head into the glass following Game 1. The home crowd let everyone know of their distaste for the Predators’ captain, booing every time he touched the puck.
“It’s part of it,” Weber said. “Whatever.”
But that didn’t stop him from opening scoring at 2:48 in the first period. Up to that point the Wings had held Nashville scoreless (0-for-12) on the power play in the series.
Kevin Klein scored for the Predators in the beginning of the second period to jump out to a 2-0 lead in enemy territory.
But then Pavel Datsyuk went all Pavel Datsyuk on Nashville. He stripped the puck from defenseman Roman Josi behind the net and got it past an unsuspecting Rinne to cut the deficit to one at 15:03 of the second period.
Detroit appeared to tie the game in the closing second of the second period when Johan Franzen got the puck past Rinne. But the goal was ruled one-tenth of a second late and Nashville held a 2-1 lead heading into intermission.
“We knew before we left the bench,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “Our video guy said it wasn’t in.”
While the Wings controlled play in the first part of the third period, they weren’t able to get anything past Rinne, unlike in Game 2.
Henrik Zetterberg scored a late goal for Detroit, but it was too late.
“We were better than them in the first game (a Nashville victory); they were better than us in the second game (a Detroit win),” defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. “It’s been like that because we were better than them today. It doesn’t really make sense, but it’s about scoring goals.”
Each of the first three games has seen a final of 3-2 and in each of those instances the team that scored first prevailed. The lesson for Detroit on Tuesday? No sluggish start.
“We have to dig in and be really strong in Game 4,” said Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom.
GAME BROWSER: NSH 3, DET 2
Most Valuable Wing: Pavel Datsyuk went all Datsyukian on Roman Josi and got the puck past an unsuspecting Pekka Rinne to score Detroit’s first goal.
Three Stars: 1. Shea Weber (NSH), 2. Pavel Datsyuk (DET), 3. Pekka Rinne (NSH)
NSH: S. Weber PPG (02:48 – 1st), K. Klein (03:50 – 2nd), S. Kostitsyn (16:30 – 3rd)
DET: P. Datsyuk (15:03 – 2nd), H. Zetterberg PPG (19:06– 3rd)
NSH: P. Rinne (W)
DET: J. Howard (L)
The Good: The Red Wings controlled the play in the first half of the third period. Jimmy Howard continues to be solid in net for Detroit.
The Bad: The Red Wings took until the third period to show a sense of urgency.
Key Stat: 43 –Shots on goal by Detroit, who out-shot the Preds by nearly double (22).
Next Up: Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals is Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Joe Louis Arena.