The Detroit Red Wings started and finished strongly for a 4-2 victory over the Nashville Predators in Game 2 of their Western Conference quarter-final on Saturday afternoon.
Darren McCarty, Nicklas Lidstrom, Kris Draper and Tomas Holmstrom all scored for Detroit, which takes a 2-0 series lead. Dominik Hasek made 25 saves in net, and was particularly strong in the first period.
Brian Rafalski added two assists for the Wings.
"Dom is the story," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. "We turned the puck over in the first period more times than we would give up in five games."
Alexander Radulov and Jordin Tootoo scored 11 seconds apart early in the second as the Predators overcame a two-goal deficit, but could not do any further damage. Nashville goaltender Dan Ellis finished with 34 saves.
Chris Chelios of the Red Wings moved ahead of Patrick Roy to become the NHL leader in playoff games, with 248.
Detroit struck early in Game 2, moving the puck quickly up ice, with McCarty banking in Dallas Drake's shot at 2:26. McCarty signed a minor-league contract with the Red Wings late in the season, making a comeback after battling personal issues.
"You can't help but cheer for people that are trying to get their life back on track," Babcock said. "Especially with a guy like that [who] has worked so hard and is one of the favourite sons in Detroit."
Hasek was strong, stopping shots from Marek Zidlicky and J.P. Dumont to help preserve the lead heading into the first intermission.
Detroit had six power-play chances during the game, and scored with the man advantage 36 seconds into the middle frame. Lidstrom's blast from the point got through with Holmstrom screening Ellis.
It was one of several official rulings that Nashville disagreed with on the day.
"When I really watched it in review, his feet were in the blue [crease]," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "According to the rules, you can't be in the blue."
The Red Wings appeared in command but Nashville caught some breaks to get back in the game.
Zidlicky's shoot-in caromed off the boards and right to Radulov. Hasek was out of position and unable to make a play as the puck went into the net for a power-play goal at 2:19.
Immediately after the ensuing face off, Andreas Lilja misplayed the puck, with Tootoo scooping it up and firing a shot that trickled through Hasek's pads for his second goal of the series.
Nashville kept up the pressure as the Wings seemed rattled. Jan Hlavac missed a good scoring chance, while Ryan Suter and Radek Bonk hit the post on successive shots on the very next shift.
The near-misses were crucial. Shortly after Detroit took a timeout, Draper's pass attempt went off Nashville defender Greg Zanon and past Ellis for a 3-2 lead.
"We settled down after that, but probably in retrospect it [the timeout] was one shift late," Babcock said.
Ellis kept it a one-goal game by making key saves later in the period on Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula.
The Predators managed just nine shots over the last half of the game, and it cost them as the Red Wings kept pressing.
Ellis stopped Pavel Datsyuk on a 2-on-1 in the third, but later in the period cleared the puck after making a save right to the stick of Holmstrom, who made it 4-2.
Nashville furiously tried to score in the final 90 seconds on a power play with Ellis on the bench for an extra attacker, but had trouble hitting the net.
"We proved that we can play with them," Predators centre Radek Bonk said. "Just lost because of a couple of lucky bounces."
The series shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which takes place on Monday night.