By Mitchell Gatzke
The Detroit Red Wings began their playoff journey Wednesday night in Nashville against the Predators. The result was not a favorable one for Wings fans as they went down by a game in the series with a 3-2 loss.
Paul Gaustad opened up the scoring in the first period in an extremely lucky fashion. The Predators forward collected the puck behind the net, skated into the corner and simply shot it in front of the net.
Gaustad's contribution to the play was over, luckily for him and his teammates, the puck hit Wings defenseman Brad Stuart's skate and found its way behind goalie Jimmy Howard to give the Preds an early lead.
Throughout the rest of the first period, Howard did well to keep his team in the game, making all the necessary saves. The closest call came with a little more than five minutes remaining in the period.
The puck was misplayed by a couple of Wings players and ended up sitting right in front of the goal for Martin Erat who quickly got a shot off that hit the post. After the first twenty minutes, Nashville was clearly outplaying Detroit and the Wings were lucky that the deficit was only one.
The Wings came out in the second playing much better and evened the score on a goal by Henrik Zetterberg.
Number 40 in white was the lucky recipient of a juicy rebound which Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne was unable to corral and he took advantage of his opportunity.
Nashville was next to strike, again with a bit of luck. Matt Halischuk carried into the Wings zone and shot the puck on net. Gabriel Bourque who was skating in front of the shot, got wiped out by Johan Franzen and somehow the puck hit his stick, changing direction and fooling Howard to give the Preds a 2-1 lead with under eight minutes left in the second.
There was not much action to speak of in the rest of the second, but Detroit was definitely dictating the play throughout the period, setting up for a good finish.
Early in the final period, the Wings were threatening on the power play but were unable to score because of some amazing saves by Rinne. About five minutes later, Preds forward Sergei Kostitsyn was alone on net but couldn't put it past Howard who made a good save on the attempt.
A lack of organization and communication by Detroit resulted in the Predators taking a commanding 3-1 lead on an easy point blank opportunity from Bourque. After this goal, there were eight minutes remaining in the game.
Rebound control was again the downfall for Rinne as Tomas Holmstrom collected and hammered home a loose puck in front of the net. With just over two minutes left though, the Wings had their work cut out for them.
A late power play and a pulled goalie gave Detroit a two man advantage but they were unable to capitalize, losing a close game.
Game two in the series should be very interesting after such a hard fought, tight game between the two sides. Tune into CBC or CNBC at 7:30 on Friday to watch these two great teams go at it again.