Pekka Rinne was one of the main reasons Nashville is in the playoffs, and he was the key factor in Wednesday's 3-2 win over Detroit in Game 1 of a Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Rinne, who set a Nashville record with 43 wins this season, stopped 35 shots for the fourth-seeded Predators, who will look to grab a 2-0 lead in the best- of-seven series on Friday.
Rookie Gabriel Bourque scored twice and Paul Gaustad added his first career playoff goal.
Henrik Zetterberg scored and Tomas Holmstrom added a tally late for the Red Wings, who could have been hosting this series, but a shootout loss to Chicago on the last day of the season relegated them to fifth place. Jimmy Howard made 23 stops in the loss.
The only goal of the first period went off a Detroit skate, but it was Nashville getting on the board. Holding the disc to the left of the net, Gaustad sent a blind pass to the front where it hit off the skate of Wings defenseman Brad Stuart and went in at the 6:59 mark.
Nashville had a great chance later in the frame when it was awarded 1:14 of 5- on-3 action, but Howard stood tall to keep the game close and finished the first period with 12 saves.
Rinne needed to stop just five shots in the first period and helped the team kill off two Detroit power plays.
Zetterberg tied the game 2:29 into the second, off a wrister on the power play for his 49th career playoff goal.
The Predators, though, took the lead back at the 12:29 mark. Matt Halischuk brought the puck in at the left side and pulled up at the point. He then sent a wrist shot on net that hit off the stick of Bourque and knuckled its way in.
Rinne made 15 saves in the second then made several stops on Zetterberg, including a rebound chance without his stick about 1:40 into the third period.
Howard kept Detroit a goal back with about 12 1/2 minutes left to play when he stopped Sergei Kostitsyn on a break, but Bourque scored his second of the game on a one-timer from Nick Spaling with 8:25 to play.
The Wings made it a one-goal game with 2:07 to play on the man advantage as Kyle Quincey got a shot on net from the left wing that saw Holmstrom get a stick on the rebound.
Detroit pulled Howard and skated the final 23 seconds 6-on-4 after a holding penalty to Preds forward Martin Erat, but was unable to net the tying goal.
Detroit forward Darren Helm was taken to the hospital after leaving the game in the first period with what the team termed as a wrist injury thanks to a skate-blade cut. He left the ice after colliding with Nashville forward Alexander Radulov...Nashville went 0-for-6 on the power play while Detroit was 2-for-8...Nashville defenseman Shea Weber was issued a roughing penalty at the end of the game as he slammed Zetterberg's head into the glass with his hand after the horn sounded...This is the third playoff meeting between these two Central Division franchises, with Detroit taking the previous two in 2004 and '08, both in the first round.