The Nashville Predators’ ninth overtime game of the season was a night of firsts as they outlasted the Detroit Red Wings, 4-3.
Craig Smith opened the scoring on the power play at 5:01 on a nice feed from Colin Wilson, finally breaking a 16-game goal drought for his first of the season and the 1-0 lead. Five minutes later it looked like Scott Hannan might also have his first goal of the season, but he had to settle for his first assist in a Predators sweater instead as Gabriel Bourque tipped the puck on its way into the net to make it 2-0.
Jimmy Howard left shortly afterward with an upper-body injury and never returned, so Jonas Gustavsson got his first-ever action against the Nashville Predators. He nearly gave up a goal on the first shot, only to be saved by the post. Nashville had four power play opportunities in the first period and failed to convert on three; one of those also featured a shorthanded goal by Daniel Cleary at 15:41, set up by Pavel Datsyuk after he outworked Jonathon Blum behind the Nashville net. The period ended with Nashville still up 2-1 and the Red Wings up in shots, 11-8.
The second period was a back-and-forth struggle that saw neither team score, though the Preds did outshoot Detroit 12-7. The third period was a different story as the Red Wings turned up the pressure in the neutral zone and on the forecheck. Nashville was able to withstand the pressure until Detroit were playing with an extra attacker on a delayed Predators penalty. Henrik Zetterberg charged up the middle of the ice, and dished to Jordin Tootoo on the right wing. Tootoo tried to fire a pass across ice but it hit Kevin Klein’s skate and bounced in at 11:33 for Tootoo’s first goal of the season – and his first not playing for Nashville.
The 2-2 tie didn’t last long as the Predators came back at 12:54 with another first, this one an unassisted goal from Roman Josi. After picking up the puck from a broken play he fired the shot from near the left wall, and it went in after deflecting off a Red Wings player for a 3-2 Nashville lead. But within 36 seconds Pavel Datsyuk had worked his magic once again, tying the game at 3-3 on a dazzling individual effort from one end of the ice to the other. The tie held and sent the game to overtime.
Thoughts of a shootout were probably hanging over plenty of Nashville fans, but the game never got that far. After breaking up Detroit’s first attack in the Nashville zone, Sergei Kostitsyn made a clean break through the neutral zone and dropped a pass for Colin Wilson, who fired a shot at goal. It went wide left off the Zamboni door, bouncing right to the stick of Nashville’s captain. Weber pulled the trigger and buried the puck in an open net for his first game-winner of the season.
- That was quite a game – lots of ups and downs near the end of the game and a thrilling finish. The Nashville Predators have now won seven of their last 11, while Detroit has lost four in a row.
- Roman Josi and Craig Smith got their first goals of the season, Scott Hannan his first assist, and Shea Weber his first game-winner of the year.
- Weber now has a four-game point streak, a three-game goal streak, and four points in his last two games. He has only taken two PIMs in the last 14 games and none in the last nine. Like some sort of a sleeping giant…
- Colin Wilson extended his career-best point streak to five games with two assists tonight, on the opening and winning goals. He now has 14 points in 17 games and is clearly Nashville’s top forward – even a night with no shots on net sees him picking up points.
- Jordin Tootoo retained his cool throughout the game and played pretty standard Tootoo hockey: five shots and four hits. He also got credit for the goal off Klein’s skate when he was trying to pass to Zetterberg. Nashville got the win so I guess I can take a moment to congratulate him – for the final time ever.
- Speaking of Zetterberg, he wasn’t too effective aside from his assist on Tootoo’s goal. He only had one shot on goal in 20:06.
- Pavel Datsyuk, on the other hand – I wish the Predators never had to play him. He takes Nashville rookie defenseman apart as a hobby. A goal, an assist on a shorty, seven shots on goal, 63 percent faceoff wins – he does it all.
- Nashville really misses Paul Gaustad in the faceoff circle. They lost the battle 31-21 tonight and 39-29 yesterday in Colorado.
- The Nashville Predators power play continues to scrape by, going 1-for-6 tonight. If they had scored on just one more chance they could’ve taken this game in regulation instead of surrendering a valuable point in the standings to a division rival. They need to start converting with more regularity – every point given up in OT negates a point they steal in OT themselves.
- Detroit outshot Nashville 29-25, though that advantage came mostly from the 11-4 third period as they fought uphill and the Preds defended the lead. Nashville took the overtime 1-0, though.
- This isn’t remotely the same Detroit team that dominated the Western Conference for two decades. Injuries might be playing a part in that, but they’re also a lot more shallow behind those top two lines than they’ve been in recent memory.