Dan Ellis made 38 saves, including a one-on-one breakaway stop on Pavel Datsyuk with the game tied midway through the second period, as the Predators topped the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a fast paced, physical game in front of a vocal sold out crowd at Sommet Center on Friday night, the first meeting between the Central Division rivals this season.
Kevin Klein and Vernon Fiddler scored 5:28 apart late in the second period to break open a tie game.
Klein scored the go-ahead-goal after Dan Ellis made a pair of key saves on shorthanded opportunities for the Red Wings. Henrik Zetterberg had a clear breakaway one-on-one with Ellis, but the Nashville netminder made a right pad save to keep the score tied. Moments later Marian Hossa came in and snapped a shot from the right wing that Ellis deflected away. On the counter attack off Hossa’s rush, Martin Erat carried the play deep into the Detroit zone and passed the puck to Rich Peverley in the right wing corner. Peverley relayed the pass to Klein cutting into the near side face-off circle. Klein one-timed the shot for his third goal of the season.
Erat was also instrumental in the next Preds goal, settling the play behind the Detroit net and patiently finding Fiddler alone at the top of the goal crease. Fiddler banged home the pass with 1:08 left in the second period for his sixth goal of the season and third score in the last four games.
The game opened with quick paced, physical action by both teams, as the two sides combined for 27 shots in the first period. The Predators drew a power-play opportunity 7:24 into the game. Although Nashville didn’t score, it created four quality scoring chances, the last one a shot by Klein through a screen as the power-play expired. Detroit goaltender Ty Conklin was able to make the save and cover the rebound, but on the ensuing face-off Radek Bonk, the NHL leader in face-off percentage, won the draw cleanly back to Greg Zanon. Zanon immediately riffled a shot from the top of the left wing face-off circle inside the far post to give the Preds the early 1-0 lead, Zanon’s second goal of the season.
That was the crowd of the playoffs last year. That’s Predators Hockey and that’s the Predators fan base and those are the fans that we love. If we could get those fans coming out every game it is just going to grow the city, grow the game and help us win games. That gives you that extra bit of energy and that extra boost and they were there for us tonight.- Dan Ellis on tonight's crowd at Sommet Center
The Red Wings answered with 5:56 left in the opening frame when Dan Cleary beat the Predators defense wide down the right wing. Cleary came out in front and roofed a shot under the crossbar and just inside the near post for his sixth goal this season.
Three minutes into the third period Mikael Samuelsson scored his seventh of the season to cut the Preds lead to 3-2. Andreas Lilja created the play and the left wing point faking a slap shot to draw the Nashville defense and then shooting a pass to Samuelsson deep down the near side wing. Samuelsson one-timed the feed from a tight angle for the goal.
Ellis made sure the lead held with a big save on Brad Stuart’s breakaway with 13:56 left in the game. Ellis and the PK unit then killed off a six-on-four for the final 1:28, including a block by Ryan Suter as time expired.
Including playoff games, Dan Ellis has six 35-plus save outings in 11 starts against the Red Wings ... Tonight marked the sixth time this season the Preds defensemen have contributed two-or-more goals to the offense. Nashville is 5-1-0 in those six games ... Vernon Fiddler has three goals in his last four games, including two game-winning goals.
Post-Game Quotes: Barry Trotz Quotes On Having Extra Motivation when the Red Wings come to town…
“They are the measuring stick in the league, they’ve been the symbol of excellence for a long time, so when they come in, obviously they are defending Stanley Cup Champions so I’m sure they see this a lot when teams get ramped up. We played them in the playoffs last year and they knocked us out, so there was some motivation there. They are a good test and, the Detroit Red Wings bring the best out of a lot of teams in the National Hockey League and tonight I think we paid a lot of attention to detail.
On what they did right…
“We did a lot of the same things we’ve been doing for the last little while but the first goal was a big draw. We didn’t take a lot of penalties and the penalty kill was really strong. There was a lot of energy, we didn’t give up a lot of odd-man chances or anything like that, so for the most part, against a very deep Detroit team, I thought we did a lot of things we’ve been doing. We stayed hungry on the puck and the big goal at the end of the second period. Legwand cleared things out and got the puck to Fiddler and it was a big goal and we stayed hungry in a really tough area of the rink. Those are the things that are going win you hockey games. It was a good effort all around.
On top players stepping up…
Our top players were really important tonight, I thought Shea Weber did an excellent job with Ryan Suter against their top line. I thought Arnott was really strong and he was using his size and weight. Legwand had the assignment tonight of taking on the Datsyuk line and he did a really good job, so a lot of guys contributed.
On respecting Detroit…
We didn’t have a lot of breakdowns and we didn’t panic and one thing that we’ve learned over the last 10 years with Detroit is that you have to respect them because they are good in so many areas of the game and if you stand and watch them play the game they will just pick you apart. I think that we had that mind set that we had to take along tonight. I thought we did an excellent job.”
On it being nice to see more than one goal…
“It has been a tough stretch for us and in terms of goal scoring lately and if we weren’t hitting it off the post we were hitting it off the crest. Tonight we went to the net hard and we got rewarded for that. That’s how you score in this league. That’s how Detroit scores, and if they don’t score on the power play, they go to the net hard and do great things on offense so we did a lot of things that they do very well tonight.”
On Nashville’s defense shooting a lot tonight…
“It was ‘Let’s get pucks to the net tonight’ and the defense is going to shoot the puck when the forwards are at the net. They’re going to shoot it and the more they are there, the quicker the defense want to get it to the net and sometimes the defense get it to the point and they are waiting for it to get in front and by the time they see the forward get there, it gets blocked, so I thought our forwards did a really solid job of getting to the net quickly to allow our defense to get the puck there quickly and create a lot of chaos and secondary chances.”
Goaltender Dan Ellis On defeating their division rivals…
"It feels good. They were the reason we finished our season last year, so when you can have a bit of redemption in your first match up against them and for us to come back and play the way we did after two days off is great. You never really know what you are going to get after a couple days off and a holiday. We played an outstanding game and came out with two points."
On his breakaway save on Datsyuk…
"I finally made a breakaway save. I just tried to stay a little more patient. In the past I think I have been a little bit too aggressive and come out too far so I tried to pace myself a little bit better. I tried to read the shot and push across and I was able to make the save."
On the loudness of the crowd near the end of the game…
"That was the crowd of the playoffs last year. That’s Predators Hockey and that’s the Predators fan base and those are the fans that we love. If we could get those fans coming out every game it is just going to grow the city, grow the game and help us win games. That gives you that extra bit of energy and that extra boost and they were there for us tonight."
Forward Vern Fiddler On getting an extra boost when playing Detroit…
"The emotion levels are probably a bit higher. There are a lot more fans in the building and when the fans get going I think it creates a lot of emotion."
On getting goals from unlikely sources…
"I think our power-play goal was huge. We’ve been struggling on our power play lately and I think that goal was as big as any goal tonight. Another goal from Zanon, plus we played really well and we got the lead and it helped."
On getting his third goal in four games…
"I feel good. I feel comfortable out there and confident of course when you are scoring, you feel good out on the ice and that’s all you can really do."
Forward Martin Erat On playing their division rivals…
"We have played so many games against them and I think that it is always a rivalry. It is always nice to win against them."
On settling into his line…
"If you understand the guys that are playing with you on the ice then that makes it easier to play. Right now with Fiddler and Legwand we are playing good hockey and we are creating turnovers and getting chances."
1 - 0 NSH
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 NSH
3 - 1 NSH