The Nashville Predators opened up their four-game road trip with a visit in the Motor City to take on the Detroit Red Wings. Nashville encountered one of the most red-hot teams in the league, as the Wings had won five straight entering Tuesday night.
The Preds announced just moments before the game began that Juuse Saros would not be playing against Detroit, and backup goaltender David Rittich took the start in net. The Red Wings only generated 16 total shots, as the Predators defeated the hosting Wings, 5-2.
The Predators were forced to go on the penalty kill early in the first period when Matt Duchene was called for a slashing against Michael Rasmussen. The Nashville defense stood tall, though, and Rittich was only asked to make one save to keep a clean sheet as the penalty expired. Despite the successful kill, the Predators were unable to generate any sort of offensive pressure in the following sequences. This finally changed shortly before the ten-minute mark of the period, where Nashville was finally maintained some offensive-zone time. Still no goals, though.
With less than eight minutes in the opening period, Nashville was given a power play opportunity via Vladislav Namestnikov sending the puck over the glass. Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen got out into space in transition, and the rest was history. Duchene dished up a “gimme” to Johansen, who notched his seventh of the year.
That wasn’t all, though.
With a little over two minutes in the period, Roman Josi took the puck from the blue line to the goal line, weaving through each defender in his way to put the puck past Nedeljkovic.
That would conclude the scoring for the period, as the Predators walked back into the locker room with a 2-0 lead.
The Preds opened the second period with a high-danger shot on Nedeljkovic, but the shot was blocked by the Detroit goaltender. The second period fell into a lull, as only five shots had been registered almost eight minutes into the 20, and it needed a spark. Ben Harpur helped contribute to that spark, dropping the gloves with Givani Smith.
As Harpur skated to the penalty box, Alex Carrier quickly followed him as he got called for a roughing penalty. This one came back to bite the Predators; after a skirmish in front of the net, Robby Fabbri poked the puck past Rittich and brought Detroit back to within one goal.
There wouldn’t be another special teams opportunity until late in the period, when Mikael Granlund drew a cross-checking penalty. The team failed to convert on the opportunity, but Phil Tomasino was the one to possess the final scoring chance of the period. On a breakaway as time expired, the youngster was unable to get past the Red Wings goalie. After two, Nashville still had a lead, although it had been cut in half.
Nashville made quick work of regaining its two-goal lead. Less than three minutes into the game, Nick Cousins found himself right in front of the net with no defenders. The forward dangled past Nedeljkovic, and put his team back ahead by two.
Detroit continued to try to work their way back into the game, but Eeli Tolvanen made that possibility a lot harder to grasp. Right off of a faceoff seven minutes into the period, Dante Fabbro sent in a lofter from the blue line. Tolvanen found the tip and managed to rebound it into the back of the net. With less than 13 minutes to go, the Preds found themselves with a comfortable lead.
Needing an answer, Detroit quickly found one from Michael Rasmussen; his goal brought the Wings back to within two goals with half a period to go. Despite the Red Wing push, the team was unable to generate any more goals. Detroit pulled Nedeljkovic with over two minutes left, and Fabbro beat out an opposing Red Wing to tap the puck into the empty net with 30 seconds left. That did it for tonight, as Nashville earned a big win in game one of the road trip.
OTF’s Three Stars of the Game
- Roman Josi - Absolutely filthy goal.
- Nick Cousins - Scored the game winner.
- Eeli Tolvanen - Scored the coffin-sealer late in the third period.