Playoff Bound--Red Wings 4, Predators 3 OT

NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 02: Nicklas Lidstrom #5 and Brad Stuart #23 of the Detroit Red Wings congratulate Jonathan Ericsson #52 on scoring a goal against the Nashville Predators on April 2, 2011 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

The Red Wings punched their ticket to the playoffs for the 20th straight season and have clinched 100 points for the 11th straight year with a wild overtime win over Nashville. However, points 99 and 100 did not come easy as they met up with a tough Nashville Predators team. 

Tomas Holmstrom interfered with Pekka Rinne at 3:44 of the 1st period, causing a Nicklas Lidstrom power-play goal to be called back and was sent to the box himself. At first, it looked like any netfront play, but the replay showed Holmstrom elbowed Rinne in the head--most likely on accident. 

Holmstrom was in the box when Justin Abdelkader got whistled for boarding Martin Erat, on a play that was more of a case of Erat getting caught looking at his feet than anything. With Abdelkader in the box, the Predators had a brief 5-on-3 until Tomas Holmstrom's penalty ended. Holmstrom took the ice on the penalty kill and then promptly put the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty--showing why he doesn't play on the kill to begin with. The Predators were back to a 5-on-3 power play and Ryan Suter ripped a shot past Patric Hornqvist, Brad Stuart and Jimmy Howard to the blocker side for a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission. 

Follow the jump for the rest of the game, analysis and video. 

At the start of the second period, Stuart lifted the puck over the glass for another delay of game penalty. On the ensuing power play, Shea Weber found Erat with a pass from along the boards and Erat redirected it past Howard for a 2-0 Nashville lead at 1:42 of the second period. Less than a minute later, Mike Fisher put a shot towards the net that hit off of those springy boards at Bridgestone Arena! and back out, right on the stick of Sergei Kostitsyn for his 20th goal of the season. 

Mike Babcock called a timeout after the rapid goals from the Predators to calm his team down. After a fight by Todd Bertuzzi (his second of the game), the Wings picked the tempo up with two goals of their own. The Predators had troubled clearing a puck from behind the net and Jakub Kindl stepped up to a loose puck and blasted home his 2nd goal of the year.

A little over a minute later, Tomas Holmstrom dished the puck back to Stuart at the blueline and Stuart's shot was deflected by Justin Abdelkader for a big goal at 4:49 of the second. Abdelkader scored the tying goal (see below) at 3:59 of the third period after Bertuzzi brought the puck around from behind the net and dished a great pass of to Abdelkader in the slot. Abdelkader's 7th goal of the season tied the game for the Wings and brought the Wings to life.

The Wings survived two late-game penalties from Ruslan Salei (including a bad cross-check with under 4 minutes to play) to force overtime and guarantee the playoffs with the 99th point. But who likes just guaranteeing one point? Not Dan Cleary. Off a Henrik Zetterberg face-off win, Cleary battled past Kevin Klein and a referee to get in front of Rinne. Brian Rafalski's shot was deflected by Cleary past Rinne for the win and point 100 on the season. 

:: ANALYSIS ::

  • I can't quantify how much better of a performance this was against the Predators than that put forth against the Blues. The Wings came out and played tough from the get-go with fast play, good stick work and aggressive forechecking. The Wings outhit the Predators 29-23 on the day and 
  • Two of the top three teams in fewest PIM/game combined for a total of 46 minutes in the box. The Wings got whistled for 3 delay of games 
  • It was a weird game, to be honest. The Red Wings played with a lot of energy and passion, compared to what they showed against St. Louis. Yet, despite that good play, they had a lot of dumb penalties. Rarely do those two go hand-in-hand. 
  • Is there some prior history of Todd Bertuzzi and Shane O'Brien that I don't know about? Two fights for Bert against SOB, alriiighty. Bert spent more time in the box than on the ice tonight (by like 6 seconds). 
  • What's the saying? Karma's a bitch? Thought so, Marty. Yeah, I realized you scored but seeing you get your ass rocked by the same guy that you elbowed last time was awesome. 
  • Monster save by Jimmy Howard on Joel Ward late in the game, preventing a goal that would have killed any chance for the Wings to get a point in the game. Jimmy looked pretty sharp. The first goal he had little chance on, double screen on a 5-on-3? You've gotta have a lot of luck to not have that go in. The Erat goal was another tough one to stop as that was a great play by Weber/Erat. Hopefully Jimmy keeps this game in his mind because he had a lot of excellent saves and kept his heart in the game despite being down 3-0.
  • That's right, down 3-0. Score 4 unanswered goals against a good defense and excellent netminder to get the win. I'll take it.
:: GOAL OF THE GAME ::

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