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An Opportunity Wasted

The Gang That Won't Give Up almost pulled off a storybook upset last night; playing without 3 of their top 4 starting centers (Jason Arnott sick, David Legwand hampered by his foot, Scott Nichol out with a broken thumb) on the road in Detroit, the Predators skaters were simply dominated by the Red Wings, getting outshot 53-20 in regulation. Dan Ellis single-handedly kept Nashville in the game, giving up only a 1st period goal to Valteri Filppula, in what was probably the best goaltending performance in the playoffs so far.

Then, with Ellis on the bench in the final minute so Nashville could use an extra attacker, Radek Bonk slipped into the low slot and fired a one-timer past Chris Osgood to tie the game at 1 with 44 seconds left. It was reminiscent of Bonk's tying goal in Montreal back in December, when Nashville rallied from a 3-goal deficit late in the 3rd period to pull out a victory. This time, however, there was no happy ending for the Preds as J.P. Dumont threw the puck away at center ice, Niklas Kronwall picked it right up for Detroit and hit Johan Franzen with a pass in behind the Nashville defense; from there, a patient Franzen deked Ellis down to the ice and slipped a backhander through for the overtime winner. For the Red Wings, it was the ultimate relief; to lose such a game would have been a crushing blow to team morale, a definitive statement that despite multiple Stanley Cup rings and Vezina Trophies, Detroit's goaltending was as shake as some of the critics have been saying. Now, they have an Osgood victory to build off of, and will try to deliver a knockout punch to end the series.

The Predators can only hope that Arnott and/or Legwand are able to return to action Sunday afternoon at the Sommet Center; wingers like Dumont and Alexander Radulov looked pretty much lost without pivots to carry the play into the offensive end, and depth players like Brandon Bochenski and Josh Langfeld weren't very effective.

The good news here is that Ellis proved capable of providing a game-stealing effort; if the Predators can find a way to win Game 6 tomorrow, they'll certainly have a puncher's chance in a Game 7.