David Legwand gave Nashville a big boost, but it was Ryan Suter and Jason Arnott who propelled the Nashville Predators to an unlikely come-from-behind victory over Detroit on Monday night.
Suter and Arnott scored nine seconds apart late in the third period as the Predators skated to an amazing 5-3 victory over the visiting Red Wings in Game 3 of their Western Conference quarter-final.
Nashville was down 2-0 in the first period and trailed 3-2 in the final minutes of regulation time before Suter and Arnott struck to give the Predators their first win of the playoffs.
Detroit still leads the best-of-seven series 2-1. Game 4 goes Wednesday in Nashville.
Legwand returned to the lineup after sitting out the last 14 games with a bone bruise on his left foot, scoring a goal and logging 16 minutes of ice time for the Predators.
Legwand had not played since March 7 after taking a shot off his foot. He was still wearing a walking boot Sunday and did not participate in the team's Monday morning skate, but was thrown into the lineup by Barry Trotz to try to rejuvenate the Predators.
The Nashville centre, the club's fifth-leading scorer in the regular season with 44 points in 65 games, scored with five minutes left in the second period to tie the game at 2-2.
But it was Suter and Arnott who were the heroes, sparking an incredible Nashville comeback in the third period when the Red Wings appeared to have a lock on the game and a 3-0 series lead.
"There's moments that are going to happen in a series that can change the whole series," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "I don't know, we might have just had ours."
"I don't know what it is. When we get down, we seem to push that much harder," said Arnott.
After managing only three goals against Domink Hasek through the first two games of the series, the Predators finally solved the Detroit goalie Monday, peppering him with shots from all over the ice.
While Hasek made 11 saves in the first period to keep Nashville off the scoreboard, Kris Draper scored his second goal of the playoffs on a setup from Jiri Hudler.
With Detroit on the power play in the second period, Hudler scored his first career playoff goal when he beat Nashville goalie Dan Ellis on a deflection at the side of the net.
The Predators refused to lie down and Alexander Radulov found the back of the net three minutes later with a wrist shot. That goal got the silent Nashville crowd into the game, and they were rewarded when J.P. Dumont fed a gorgeous cross-ice pass to Legwand, who blasted a one-timer that eluded Hasek at 15:01.
Any momentum Nashville had evaporated 40 seconds into the final frame, though. Pavel Datsyuk rushed into the Predators zone and unleashed a wicked snap shot from inside the circle that breezed by Ellis.
The Red Wings' vaunted defence took over and suffocated the Predators' forwards until Suter, a defenceman, blasted a slap shot that handcuffed Hasek and tied the score at 16:03. With Detroit reeling, Nashville pressed and took its first lead of the series just nine seconds later when Arnott beat Hasek on a shot that the Detroit goalie should have stopped.
Martin Erat scored into an empty net with 21 seconds left in regulation to seal the win for the Predators.
"To go down 0-3 would have been a huge hole that not many teams have come out of," Legwand said. Now, I feel like we have taken the momentum from them."
"Guys are down. Guys are hurting," Draper said after the game. "At the same time, when we wake up (Tuesday), we're still up 2-1, even if it doesn't feel that way..