By Amanda DiPaolo
The Nashville Predators hosted the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night with an opportunity to jump into 8th spot in the Western Conference standings, an opportunity they did not waste, winning 3-1.
Head Coach Barry Trotz said the crowd was again a difference maker. “Once again, it was great energy from our crowd. I think you’d be embarrassed if you didn’t play hard here. Our crowds have been unbelievable. There were a few more red shirts than I wanted to see out there, but we sent them home sad,” he said.
No matter what the outcome of the game against the Wings on April 2, Nashville wins the season series against Detroit. With one game remaining to be played between the two foes, the Predators have a 4-1 record.
Rinne was off to his impeccable start when just 6 minutes into the game Drew Miller took a shot from the point and Niklas Kronwall picked up the rebound off of Rinne’s pad save. Kronwall took a shot on a seemingly open net, but Rinne somehow got his stick on it.
It seemed like the referees were reluctant to call any penalties, but the Red Wings were awarded two power plays with just three minutes remaining in the opening frame.
With no call on what appeared to be Patrick Eaves interfering with Predators Captain Shea Weber, Weber took it upon himself to put Eaves in his place with a push so hard that Eaves fell into the boards and slumped onto the ice.
Weber was called for roughing.
Detroit thought they scored when Kronwall’s shot from the point beat Rinne, but with Tomas Holmstrom in front of Rinne and actually touching the Predators goaltender, the referee called the goal back citing incidental contact as the reason.
But Nashville couldn’t escape the Red Wings taking a 1-0 lead into the locker room at the first intermission.
Sergei Kostitsyn got called for elbowing with just 30 seconds remaining in the first period. Just 8 seconds into the power play, Detroit scored when Todd Bertuzzi passed the puck from the point down low to Henrik Zetterberg who then sent a cross-crease pass to Dan Cleary who tapped in the puck for the backdoor open-net goal.
Nashville tied it up at 8:42 into the middle frame. Patric Hornqvist saw Blake Geoffrion from behind the net and got the puck to Brentwood native.
“Patric Hornqvist passed the puck to the net, and I just got a stick on it. Then, it deflected off my stick and then hit my leg. It hit the goalie, and then he put it in. I’ll take them how I can get them,” Geoffrion said.
It was Geoffrion’s third goal of the season and his first at Bridgestone Arena.
The game went into the third period tied at one goal a piece. Nashville took the lead when they went on the power play at 7:04 of the third period. Shane O’Brien was skating in on Howard and was hauled down by Zetterberg.
Nashville went up 2-1 a little over a minute into the man advantage when Hornqvist took a shot on goal and Jon Blum put the rebound in the net for his third goal of the season.
“I definitely just go to the back door, and I roam around. I kind of use my instincts. Cody Franson gave it to Kostitsyn, and I was just kind of behind Hornqvist waiting for a rebound. But it kind of caught me off guard, and I wasn’t ready. Luckily it got on my stick, and I just shoveled it in, in a way. Pretty good luck there, but we’ll take it,” Blum said.
The Red Wings had an excellent opportunity to send the game to overtime when Ryan Suter was sent to the box for cross checking with just 3:53 left in the game.
The Predators were able to kill off the penalty and were able to hold on for the win.
David Legwand added an empty net goal with 28.4 seconds left on the clock to secure the victory.
The Predators left immediately after the game for Buffalo where they play Sunday afternoon at 4 pm. Buffalo also played on Saturday night, at home, beating the Atlanta Thrashers 8-2.
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