In front of a raucous, sellout crowd, the Nashville Predators made a statement that the Central Division title is very much up for grabs with a big 3-0 win over Detroit tonight. The victory pulls the Preds to within 5 points of the Red Wings for the division lead, with a rematch set for Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena (consider joining us for an OTF Viewing Party).
This was a true team triumph, as Ryan Suter had two assists, Shea Weber opened the scoring while Sergei Kostitsyn added two more (including a Goal of the Year candidate), Pekka Rinne was outstanding in goal (recording 35 saves for his 4th shutout of the season), and a host of others made big contributions at both ends of the ice.
Follow after the jump for more!
First up, the video highlights (may take a while post-game to become available):
For folks who were looking forward to a reenactment of the 8-0 pasting the Preds put on the Red Wings on a Saturday night a couple years ago, this came pretty darned close!
- The Preds jumped Detroit right off the opening faceoff, which you like to see from a team playing in front of a sellout crowd, against an opponent which played the previous night.
- Nashville got both sides of the special teams to work in the first period. Shea Weber's goal came on a blistering shot, but then Shane O`Brien took a totally unnecessary cross-checking penalty on Abdelkader for Detroit. The penalty killers did an outstanding job, however, including a good rush up the ice by Joel Ward.
- Alice Cooper and Vince Gill on stage during the first intermission? Only in Music City...
- Seeing both Patric Hornqvist and Sergei Kostitsyn head to the box together was a rare occasion, but the Preds put in a gritty 5-on-3 PK featuring a couple great saves by Pekka Rinne.
- Steve Sullivan made a nice move on the breakaway to almost(!) score a goal, and he must've been annoyed afterward, as he drilled a Red Wing into the boards shortly afterward.
- As the penalty killers continued their strong play with a late 2nd-period kill, along comes that shorthanded goal by Sergei Kostitsyn. Simply put, that's one of the best goals I've seen in recent memory. He had Kindl hanging on his back and lifted a backhanded shot up high with only one hand on his stick. Amazing.
- This one definitely had that "division feel" right from the opening puck drop, there were scraps after the whistle and plenty of jawing going on throughout. With plenty more matchups between these two teams down the stretch, this was just the opening round of what should be a pretty entertaining fight.
- It was another big night on the faceoff dot for Jerred Smithson... that kind of work will keep him in Barry Trotz's favor for a long time.
- After the Red Wings dominated much of the 3rd, the Preds really took over in the final minutes, and SK74's second goal just capped off the night.
No time to run the numbers for you tonight, so I'll point you over to Time On Ice.com instead.