The Nashville Predators will try to take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference quarterfinals, as they host the Detroit Red Wings tonight at Bridgestone Arena for Game 2 of this best-of-seven series.
The fourth-seeded Predators took the early lead in the series thanks to a 3-2 victory against a visiting Detroit club on Wednesday night. Nashville hopes to put the fifth-seeded Red Wings in a deeper hole tonight before the series shifts to Detroit for Games 3 and 4 on Sunday and Tuesday, respectively.
The Predators rode their goaltender to Wednesday's Game 1 victory, as Pekka Rinne, who set a Nashville record with 43 wins this season, stopped 35 shots, including 15 in the final period, to help Nashville post the victory.
Rookie Gabriel Bourque scored twice and Paul Gaustad, who was acquired from Buffalo at the trade deadline, added his first career playoff goal.
"We had some lines that were going good tonight," said Nashville head coach Barry Trotz. "I could have played any of my lines tonight and been comfortable because they were all playing good. You're going to need contributions all through your lineup if you're going to win in the playoffs."
Nashville won despite going 0-for-6 on the power play and allowing Detroit to score twice on eight opportunities with the man advantage.
Henrik Zetterberg scored and Tomas Holmstrom added a tally late for the Red Wings, who could have been hosting this series if not for a shootout loss to Chicago on the last day of the season that dropped them to fifth place. Jimmy Howard made 23 stops in the loss.
"Anytime you lose Game 1, especially when you're the road team, I think it's a great opportunity to win a game for sure," Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said. "Now we just have to get refocused and we've got to win a game in here."
Detroit set an NHL record this year with a 23-game home winning streak and ended the regular season 31-7-3 as the host. However, that outstanding home record was offset by a 17-21-3 mark on the road.
Wednesday's game featured an ugly display by Nashville defenseman Shea Weber in the closing seconds of the game. Weber, a Norris Trophy finalist last season, 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. Many expected Weber to be suspended for at least a game for his antics, but the league decided to fine him $2,500 instead.
"We felt this was a reckless and reactionary play on which Weber threw a glancing punch and then shoved Zetterberg's head into the glass," NHL senior vice president of player safety and hockey operations Brendan Shanahan said.
Shanahan's statement also revealed that Zetterberg "did not suffer an apparent injury and should be in the lineup for Game 2." The league's discipline czar also warned Weber that he will not be lucky enough to only warrant a fine should he be involved in another situation like this in the playoffs.
"This play and the fine that addressed it will be significant factors in assessing any incidents involving Shea Weber throughout the remainder of the playoffs," Shanahan said.
Although Zetterberg apparently avoided injury, Detroit forward Darren Helm was not as fortunate. Helm, who was playing in his first game since suffering a sprained MCL in his left knee on March 17, left the game in the first period after having his wrist cut by a skate blade. The injury occurred after Helm collided with Nashville forward Alexander Radulov and Detroit's speedy winger needed surgery to repair lacerated tendons. Helm, who had nine goals and 17 assists during the regular season, will miss the rest of the playoffs.
The Predators, who have only made it past the first round of the playoffs once in team history, will be looking for their first playoff series victory against the Red Wings in the third meeting between the clubs. The Central Division rivals also met in the first round in 2004 and '08, with Detroit taking both series in six games. This marks Nashville's first time with home- ice advantage against the Wings.