This was a much “prettier” game all around than Game 1; a lot better skating, a lot better passing, and lot better transition flow for both teams. The power-play chances (6-2 in Nashville’s favor) were probably more indicative of the game flow than the scoreboard, but the Preds didn’t get the bounces tonight and Detroit did.
The series is now knotted at 1-1 heading to Detroit for Games 3 and 4. There are few road teams that have had the level of success at The Joe like the Preds have --- winning six of the 12 games at JLA over the last four regular seasons, including a 4-1 win in their last trip to Detroit on March 30.
Now on to the Musings…
Special Teams – For the second consecutive game Detroit won the special teams battle, tonight perhaps more decidedly than in Game 1 --- despite not generating a power-play goal. Detroit’s penalty kill was the difference in the game. Nashville had a chance in the opening minutes of the game to gain the early momentum, but the Wings PK killed the penalty. In the second period, Nashville was on the power-play for almost the entire first half of the frame, but again the Wings PK held the Preds off the board. And in the third period, Valtteri Filppula took a penalty 6:12 into the frame, but Nashville was unable to generate momentum.
Preds Top Lines Step Up – Nashville’s top lines --- the line centered by Mike Fisher
and the line centered by David Legwand
--- were much more engaged in the play tonight. Legwand’s line converted for Nashville’s first goal of the game, an Andrei Kostitsyn
snap shot midway through the second period, and had a near-miss in the third period on the shift immediately after Weber’s goal cut the deficit to 2-3. Coach Trotz was very complimentary of their play, referring to Radulov and Kostitsyn as “bulls” with the puck on their stick deep in the zone. The Fisher line created more high level chances than the Legwand line, but were unable to convert; they drew the power-play 1:36 into the game and initiated physical contact several times early in the game helping to set the early tone for the Preds. Sergei Kostitsyn
and Martin Erat
each made a handful of dangerous one-on-one situations on rushes in transition. All-in-all, Nashville played better in Game 2 than it did in Game 1 -- and controlled the majority of the action – but just misfired on too many opportunities. Credit Detroit’s 16 blocked shots for defusing several of those opportunities.
Wings Capitalize on Mistakes – Detroit’s three goals came on three of Nashville’s few mistakes in tonight’s game. One of the Preds defensemen cheated too far down low in the zone and then Brandon Yip
peeled away from the point for the hit along the boards high in the defensive zone and the combination of the two decisions left Ian White all alone at the right point --- White took his time and slowly skated in before picking his corner for the first goal. Kevin Klein
made a poor puck decision with Nashville buzzing in the Detroit end, leading to an easy shot-block and two-on-one for the Wings in the other direction; Klein then took an awkward angle getting back on defense allowing a more pronounced odd-man opportunity which Emmerton converted for the 2-0 lead. And then, less than a minute after cutting the deficit to 1-2, Nashville misplayed a routine looking zone entry and Detroit was able to bank a centering feed off a skate and in for the eventual game-winning goal; Coach Trotz called that play his one regret from tonight’s game, “You have to hold that lead longer a minute,” Trotz said post-game.
Forward Alexander Radulov
on Nashville’s opportunities throughout multiple power plays…
"It was a lot better than [Wednesday]. We had a lot of chances, and you can tell their goalie played well. Some nights, you’re lucky, and we weren’t lucky today. Their goal was kind of lucky, but like I said it’s up to four [games]. We were lucky in the first game; we got those dirty goals and they got it today. It’s 1‐1, we’re going to Detroit, and it’s up to four. We just have to play the same way. I think we played really well today. It was a good effort. Guys battled hard. We had a lot of chances, we just didn’t bury them. I had a few that fell on me a couple times. It’s not an excuse, but we have to score when we get those chances."
Goaltender Pekka Rinne
on tonight's game...
"I thought we played really well. They didn’t really get anything, they were tired, they had to defend a lot, but they did a good job defending, and we didn’t give them much offensively. It’s obviously frustrating when the score is this way and we created a lot of chances."
1) DET G Jimmy Howard – 24 saves; faced a number of dangerous situations, especially through the first half of the game
2) NSH F Andrei Kostitsyn
– 1 goal, +2, 20:15 ice time
3) DET F Pavel Datsyuk – the scoresheet doesn't matter, it was his positioning on defense, his puck decions, his ability to slow down or speed up the pace of the game when he wanted