A valiant third-period comeback by the Nashville Predators earned the squad a valuable point in the standings Wednesday night, though they fell to Detroit in a shootout, 3-2, at Joe Louis Arena.
The Preds battled back from a 2-0 deficit in the final eight minutes of regulation getting goals from Ryan Suter and J.P. Dumont in addition to a heroic 43-save performance by goaltender Chris Mason. With the point, Nashville ends its five-game road trip with an impressive 3-1-1 record. The team now returns home with points in six of the past seven games.
Detroit controlled both the pace of play and possession of the puck in the first period, earning a power play at 6:53 which it capitalized on 1:47 later to go up 1-0. A centering attempt by Valtteri Filppula deflected off a Predator and directly to Dan Cleary, who got a handle on the puck and put it past a sprawling Mason. At the time of the goal, the Red Wings were outshooting the Preds 7-0.
The Predators picked it up in the second half of the opening period, pressing the issue in all three zones and applying a more aggressive forecheck. Chances began to even out, and the Preds appeared to have tied the game on a deflected Dan Hamhuis shot at 16:13. But, referee Chris Rooney emphatically disallowed the shot, instead calling goaltender interference on Jason Arnott who was positioned in front.
The Red Wings received a 41-second two-man advantage as time ran down in the first, but Nashville stood tough, killing both penalties to get out of the first 20 minutes down just one goal despite being outshot 16-4.
Mason continued his standout play early in the second, stoning the NHL’s leading scorer on an odd-man rush in the opening minutes. Henrik Zetterberg one-timed a feed from Pavel Datsyuk while skating in on a two-on-one at 1:10, but a diving Mason kicked the puck out of harm’s way to keep the Wing lead at one.
J.P. Dumont fires tries to pound a rebound past Chris Osgood in the second period.
Perseverance earned the Preds back-to-back power plays midway through the second frame, but the Detroit shot total continued to rise and Mason continued to play spoiler. Possibly the best even-strength chance of the period came at 16:35 when a faulty Predator line change broke the home team in on a three-on-one. Both Tomas Holmstrom and Zetterberg had prime shots, but Mason performed larceny once again, stopping them both.
The lead was extended to two goals on Detroit’s second five-on-three advantage of the game at 18:43, as Jiri Hudler helped Holmstrom and Zetterberg get their revenge, tipping home a shot that the other two connected on to earn assists. The helper extended Zetterberg’s point streak to open the season to 15 games.
The Preds pressure picked up in the third, with their best scoring chance to that point coming at 5:55 of the third on a point-blank opportunity by Alexander Radulov. David Legwand fed Radulov from behind the net, but the Russian winger was robbed by goalie Chris Osgood on a quick snap shot.
Like earlier in the contest, a Nashville shot passed over the goal line behind Osgood at 8:20 of the third without producing results on the scoreboard. J.P. Dumont let loose a wrist shot from the right face-off circle that trickled by the goalie, but the officials waved the goal off, saying the whistle had blown the play dead first.
The pressing finally paid off as the Predators got on the board to cut the deficit to one at 12:28 of the third. After circling behind the net with the puck, Legwand found Ryan Suter at the point for a one timer that navigated its way through a crowd in front and into the red-light district.
The unthinkable occurred with just 1:24 left in regulation when Dumont notched the equalizer to send the game to extra time. Arnott did the dirty work on the goal, battling for the puck along the endboards and eventually gaining possession. The captain threw a shot to the net, and the rebound landed on Radulov’s stick in front. He shoveled it on to Dumont for a one-timer from the doorstep.
With the assist, Arnott (3g-3a) joins Legwand (3g-3a) as Preds with four-game point streaks, while two assists for Radulov give him back-to-back multi-point efforts and three games with two or more points in the past six contests.
Ryan Suter and Martin Gelinas battle with Pavel Datsyuk during third-period action.
The Wings failed to capitalize on a penalty to Marek Zidlicky in overtime, setting the stage for the most thrilling spectacle in hockey – the shootout.
In the series of breakaways, Datsyuk and Zetterberg were successful on the Wings first two attempts, while Radulov and Dumont were stopped, earning Detroit the victory and the extra point.
The Predators finally return home to the Sommet Center for the first time since Oct. 27 when they clash with the upstart Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, Nov. 10. Tickets are still available by calling (615) 770-PUCK, logging on to either nashvillepredators.com or ticketmaster.com, and by visiting the Sommet Center Box Office located in the arena tower. All fans in attendance will receive the first of a three-pin commemorative set.
Game Notes: Nashville scratched Kevin Klein, while Dallas Drake, Niklas Kronvall and Tomas Kopecky sat for Detroit…Tonight was the first occasion this season Nashville earned a point when trailing after two periods… Jason Arnott and David Legwand pace the squad with 14 points (6g-8a)… Alexander Radulov has seven points (2g-5a) in the past six games… The Predators are now 3-0-1 in the month of November… Nashville was outshot by a final margin of 45-30… Detroit was 2-8 on the power play, while Nashville went 0-5… Ryan Suter now has points (1g-1a) in back-to-back games… Radulov was a game-high plus-two on the evening, while Greg Zanon blocked a contest-high four shots… Dan Hamhuis became the first Predator to play more than 30 minutes in a game with 30:06 played… Arnott and Suter dished out a team-high three hits apiece… Faceoffs were an even 35-35 in the game. Radek Bonk (6-of-10) and Jerred Smithson (12-of-19) were the best Preds at draws.