Special teams give Preds a 3-2 victory over Wings
Tuesday, 06.19.2012 / 1:12 AM
A Radek Bonk power play goal at 2:22 of the third, and solid penalty killing all night lifted the Nashville Predators to a clutch, 3-2 win over the rival Detroit Red Wings in front of 14,346 at the Sommet Center on Thanksgiving night. The Predators end a stretch of eight consecutive contests against Central Division opponents with a robust 5-1-2 record, and they are now 7-1-2 in the month of November.
“I think it is very important how you do in your division because those are the bulk of your games,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “We go through this stretch, and it is a pretty good start in the gauntlet of our divisional games, because it is almost like individual playoff series against each team in your division.”
The Predators ended a 0-for-21 drought on the power play with Bonk’s goal, while the Red Wings finished 2-for-8 on the man advantage.
“We got a big power play goal – there has been some concern there, but they got the game-winning goal so hopefully that is the breakthrough,” Trotz said. “Special teams are a big part of the game, and sometimes if you get one power play goal it can open things up. The penalty killers get a lot of props too.”
Goalie Chris Mason was the pillar of the penalty killing and the entire defensive effort, stopping 28 shots.
Detroit’s seventh-ranked power play kicked the scoring off with a fluky goal at 2:49. Johan Franzen, stationed on the goal line five feet from the net, eluded a diving Greg Zanon then snapped a bad-angle backhander that found its way between the netminder’s body and right arm. It was the Swede’s first point of the season.
Penalties continue to haunt Nashville in the game’s early going – it took five minors in the first 10 minutes of the opening frame. After killing 31 seconds of a five-on-three disadvantage, the Predators put together arguably their best kill of the season two-and-a-half minutes later, burning 1:12 of another two-man advantage that commenced at 9:55. The effort included a number of beautiful saves by Mason, including a textbook glove save on a rocket by four-time Norris Trophy winner Niklas Lidstrom at 11:01 that brought the crowd to its feet.
|Greg Zanon lays out to block a Tomas Holmstrom shot during a first-period penalty kill. Zanon ranks among the league leaders in blocked shots.
“That was huge – 1:12 of five-on-three with those guys who are really dangerous was a real test,” Mason said. “Our killers did a great job getting in the passing lanes and getting clears. We didn’t give them second chances, and just did an awesome job. That kill was huge for us.”
The Predators were being outshot 12-1 through 12 minutes, but they didn’t let that faze them, knotting the game at 1-1 with their second shot on goal at 12:20. Martin Erat
sparked the play with a great individual effort on the half boards to win a one-on-two battle and pushed the puck to J.P. Dumont behind the net. Dumont found Jason Arnott sneaking into the slot, and set him up for his eighth tally of the year.
“To me, the game was in the balance early in the game when we took back-to-back-to-back penalties,” Trotz said. “We could have given up two or three goals and we could be talking about a lopsided defeat, but we got a huge shift right after their goal and we got out of the period 1-1.”
After the goal, the Preds outshot the Wings 5-1 to end the period.
An uneventful beginning to the second period ended with a flurry, as both teams scored in the final 1:30 of the frame after garnering very few chances for the first 18 minutes of the frame.
Nashville started the second period on a power play, and drew three more penalties during the frame, but failed to score while skating a man up.
Shortly after Nashville’s third of the three advantages expired, the Red Wings man-advantage unit went to work for the first time in the frame, capitalizing on their seventh chance of the game at 18:38. Henrik Zetterberg got the goal, navigating through the Nashville defense and flipping a shot from the crease’s right side past Mason.
The Predators responded though, striking just 32 seconds later thanks again to the efforts of Erat. The NHL’s Third Star of the Week potted his sixth goal of the season, backhanding a rebound over a sprawling Dominik Hasek. Shea Weber
had the initial shot and the primary assist, his third helper in three games since returning to the lineup from injury. Dumont also assisted to create his fifth multi-point game of the season.
“I am just trying to do everything I can, whether it is scoring or what not, but what is important is that we got the two points tonight, especially coming off a loss to St. Louis,” Erat said.
Nashville claimed a 16-7 shot advantage in the period, making the cumulative totals 23-20 in its favor after 40 minutes.
|Linesman Derek Nansen picks up the puck as Ryan Suter and Martin Erat celebrate the game-winning goal against goalie Dominik Hasek.
Similar to what the Wings did in the first period, capitalizing on an early-period power play attempt, the Predators did at the beginning of third, drawing a penalty on Brett Lebda at 2:04 and scoring the go-ahead goal 18 ticks later. Very reminiscent of his previous eight tallies this season, Bonk scored it by paying the price in the slot. This time, the puck winded up on his stick when Ryan Suter
sold a slap-pass to perfection, allowing Bonk to chip home his team-leading ninth goal by a handcuffed Hasek.
“You score from the tough areas,” Bonk said. “It is hard to beat today’s goalies from far away, so if you can get tip ins, rebounds, and shots from close in, that is where the goals are scored.”
Erat’s name showed up on the scoresheet for the third time on Bonk’s goal, giving him a three-point game and nine points (4g-5a) in his last five outings.
Nashville did a masterful job of holding the one-goal lead for the balance of the third period, playing responsible in its own zone and being patient on the attack, making sure not to get caught with too many men deep in the zone. Detroit outshot the Preds 10-6 in the final frame, but the defense clogged the shooting lanes and blocked or forced countless more drives wide.
“Anytime we play them it is a big rivalry and a big game,” Arnott said. “It is and emotional game – they are the best in the league right now and we proved we can play with them. It was a battle and we were fortunate to come out on top.”
The Predators play their last home game before heading out on a three-game Eastern Canada road trip on Saturday against the Minnesota Wild. Start time is slated for 7 p.m., and tickets are still available by calling (615) 770-PUCK, logging onto nashvillepredators.com or ticketmaster.com, and by visiting the Sommet Center Box Office.
: Nashville scratched Kevin Klein
, Ville Koistinen and Darcy Hordichuk from the lineup, while Detroit sat Derek Meech, Dallas Drake and Tomas Kopecky… The Predators scored 15 straight even-strength goals over five games before scoring on the power play in the third… Nashville improves to 3-0-1 on Thanksgiving Day… The Preds are 5-0-1 in their last five home outings and 7-2-1 at the Sommet Center. They are 9-2-2 record in their past 13 games dating back to Oct. 25. In that span, Nashville has outscored its opponent 20-7 in the third period...Chris Mason is 5-1-2 in his last seven games… Radek Bonk now has four goals in six games… Erat posted three points in his first game wearing the “A” which has been alternated in six-game stretches throughout the season… Greg Zanon once again had a game-high four blocks, while Dan Hamhuis doled out a game-high five hits... Hamhuis also led the Preds in time on ice with 24:35 played… David Legwand
won six of eight face-offs for Nashville.