After earning a split in the first two games on the road, the Detroit Red Wings will try to grab a lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinals when they host the Nashville Predators in today's Game 3 at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings were dealt a 3-2 regulation loss in Nashville to open this series, but responded by taking Friday's Game 2 by the same score. Detroit will now attempt to take today's pivotal Game 3 on home ice, where the Red Wings posted a stellar 31-7-3 during the regular season. Detroit will also host Game 4 of this series on Tuesday.
Getting a split of the first two games on the road came as a relief to Detroit head coach Mike Babcock, who saw his team go just 17-21-3 as the guest this season.
"We'll take the best-of-five and go back to our building and get out of here," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock. "We'll be a better hockey club. This is a good win for our team. We'll take a step now."
The fifth-seeded Red Wings were backed by 24 saves from Jimmy Howard in Game 2 at Bridgestone Arena. Ian White, Cory Emmerton and Johan Franzen all lit the lamp for Detroit, which is in the playoffs for the 21st straight season.
Shea Weber and Andrei Kostitsyn scored the goals for the fourth-seeded Predators, who got just 14 saves from Pekka Rinne.
"I thought we played really well," said Rinne. "They didn't really get anything, they were tired, they had to defend a lot, but they did a good job defending, and we didn't give them much offensively. It's obviously frustrating when the score is this way and we created a lot of chances."
Weber was allowed to play in Game 2 after receiving a $2,500 fine for slamming Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg's head into the glass in the closing seconds of the opener. Although Weber avoided a suspension, he did have to answer for his actions in Game 2 when Detroit's Todd Bertuzzi got Nashville's star defenseman to drop the gloves for a fight early in the first period.
"I just thought that the incident the other night wasn't a part of hockey," Babcock said of Weber's actions in Game 1. "I haven't seen it since junior hockey, and I thought it was unacceptable. And I think sometimes when things don't get looked after, you have to look after it yourself and I didn't think things were looked after at all."
One of the biggest issues for Nashville right now is its inability to score on the power play. The Preds finished first in the NHL in power-play efficiency (21.6-percent) during the regular season, but have failed to score on 12 opportunities with the man advantage in this series.
Detroit is 2-for-10 in the series on the power play after going 0-for-2 on Friday.
On the injury front for Nashville, the club has played the first two games without defenseman Hal Gill, who was acquired from Montreal before the trade deadline to add depth to the blue line. The 6-foot-7 Gill is questionable for today's game with a lower-body injury.
The Predators, who have only made it past the first round of the playoffs once in team history, are 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.