Posted on April 17, 2008 01:23 AM | Permalink
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Nashville Predators all of a sudden have plenty of momentum.
The Detroit Red Wings have a goaltending crisis.
Those were the two central themes to emerge from the Predators’ 3-2 win over Detroit on Wednesday. Nashville’s second victory in a row squared this Western Conference quarter-final at two games apiece and set the stage for a pivotal Game 5 on Friday in Detroit.
"It feels outstanding, coming back from a series when it looked like we were down and out,’’ Predators goalie Dan Ellis said. "We battled back in front of the home crowd and used them as an energy boost. We believe in ourselves.’’
Ellis added another chapter to his improbable success story this season, turning away 39 Red Wings’ shots.
In a strange twist, the inexperienced Ellis was far better than his counterpart, veteran Dominik Hasek. The Wings’ six-time Vezina Trophy winner looked shaky at best, especially when he allowed Greg de Vries’ stoppable blue-line shot that gave the Predators a 3-1 lead.
It marked the end of the evening for Hasek, who was yanked after allowing three goals on 14 shots.
Any of those goals you’d like to have back, Dom?
"All of them,’’ Hasek said. "Very disappointing. The last 60 minutes, worst hockey I’ve played in my life. I have nothing to say about it. I feel very bad about myself.’’
Chris Osgood looked strong in relief of Hasek, stopping 13-of-13 over 27:15.
"I thought he made some saves for us and gave us a chance to come back in the game and we had lots of opportunity down the stretch,’’ Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said of Osgood.
Babcock didn’t commit to a starter for Friday’s contest, though it would appear to be Osgood.
"I’m pretty sure (what my decision will be), but I always like to take a deep breath first and then decide what I’m going to do,’’ Babcock said.
ANOTHER DOUBLE DIP:
The Predators continued a strange trend in this series by scoring a pair of goals within 35 seconds for the third straight time in this series.
Nashville defenseman Dan Hamhuis gave the Predators a 1-0 lead 5:18 into the contest, and Shea Weber doubled the Preds’ lead when he beat Hasek with a wrist shot only 32 seconds later.
"There’s no real key,’’ Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "I wish I could bottle that because I could probably make a few dollars in the coaching fraternity.’’
DOWN TO THREE:
Nashville’s win turned the series into a best-of-three situation.
The Predators will hope the top-seeded Red Wings start feeling a bit of pressure. Detroit has fallen in the first round in three of the past seven years.
"You came in here, you’re up 2-0, you’d like to go home with a series win,’’ Babcock said. "But that’s just not the way it is. The bottom line is here we are, we’re in a playoff series, we expected it to be tough.’’
The Predators are zero-for-nine all-time in road playoff games.
All three Predators’ goals on Wednesday came from defencemen, as Dan Hamhuis, Shea Weber and de Vries beat Hasek.
"The 'D’ scored, but it’s the forwards who are looking for us,’’ Hamhuis said. "Guys are seeing us at the point and we’re getting our shots through.’’