Saturday, April 2, 2011

Wings Score Four Straight to Beat Preds 4-3 in Overtime

The Detroit Red Wings came into their game with the Nashville Predators wanting to make a statement after losing four in a row to the Predators and they did it by coming from behind with four consecutive goals to post a 4-3 win in overtime at the Bridgestone Arena on Saturday Afternoon.

Dan Cleary tipped a shot from Brian Rafalski 2:58 into the extra period to seal the two points for Detroit and clinch their 20th consecutive postseason berth and dampen any hope for the Predators to catch the Wings in the Central Division chase.

The Predators' goals came from Ryan Suter, Marty Erat, and Sergei Kostitsyn while the Wings got two markers from Justin Abdelkader and one from Jakub Kindl before Cleary's overtime winner.

Detroit's Jimmy Howard was the difference maker in the third period as the Predators had 15 scoring chances but failed to find the net. One save on a shot by Joel Ward with 10:02 remaining was the save of the game as he stoned the puck that could have allowed the Predators to regain the lead. For the game, Howard stopped 31 of 34 Nashville shots.

Pekka Rinne was the hard luck loser as he allowed four goals and made 37 saves. There was little he could have done on all four goals.

The game started with a true playoff feel as the sell out crowd of 17,113 was in top form as the game started cheering every move by their beloved Predators.

Detroit appeared to take the lead at 16:16 in the first period but on a shot from Nicklas Lidstrom that found the net but the goal was immediately waived off due to a goalie interference call on Tomas Holmstrom.

After a boarding call on Abdelkader at 18:07 and a delay of game against Holmstrom at 18:34, Suter gave the Predators the 1-0 lead with 59.7 seconds left in opening period as he took a shot from the high slot that found the net.

The Predators came out in the second period and scored two quick goals to go ahead 3-0. Detroit took another delay of game 16 seconds into the period that set up the Preds' second power play goal when Shea Weber sent a pass to Erat who redirected it under Howard's pad at 1:42.

Then 55 seconds later, Mike Fisher fired a shot to the right of Howard that resulted in a perfect rebound to Kostitsyn who slapped it past Howard to give the Preds the 3-0 lead.

Then the tide turned and Detroit came back with two quick goals. Kindle scored an unassisted goal at 3:28 from the right circle and Abdelkader scored his first goal at 4:49 on a fluky shot that bounced in front of the net to get past Rinne.

The game remained a 3-2 until Abdelkader scored his second goal on a redirect from Todd Bertuzzi with 3:59 left in the game to send the game to overtime. In overtime, Cleary scored the game winner at 2:58 on another redirect from Brian Rafalski.

Ryan Suter said, "You can't take your foot off the gas. You have to keep going on them."

Shane O'Brien and Bertuzzi squared off twice in the contest, the first initiated by Bertuzzi and the second one by O'Brien. The first scuffle was at 4:34 in the opening period. The second was at 2:43 in the second six seconds after the Predators had taken a 3-0 lead that seemed breath life back into the Wings.

"You don't win every fight you are in, but when a guy jumps you, there's a little bit of pride involved," said O'Brien after the game.

The game was marred by 17 penalties, eleven against the Wings and six against the Predators.

Coach Barry Trotz has a new philosophy, "It's the hardest one in the league right now, a three goal lead because you think you have lots of breathing room."

"It used to be a two goal lead . Now because the game is played without the hooking and holding, it's the three goal lead. You think you have breathing room but the team gets one and the momentum shifts."

In taking the game to overtime, the Predators picked up a point and remain in sixth place in the Western Conference with 95 points.

The Predators will take Sunday off and practice on Monday at the Bridgestone Arena to prepare for Tuesday's home game against the Atlanta Thrashers.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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