Get the split.
The mantra of any road team entering a best of 7 playoff series is to split the first two games and earn home ice advantage. For the NHL's best home team, a team with a losing road record, this took on an even greater importance.
The Red Wings came out with the fire we hoped to see and built up a 3-1 lead heading into the third period. Goals from Ian White, Cory Emmerton (his first NHL playoff goal) and Johan Franzen got the Wings comfortably in front, and Jimmy Howard shut the door the rest of the way minus one fluky goal from an apparition of a player that seemed out of place, and the Wings evened the series 1-1 heading back to Joe Louis Arena Sunday afternoon.
It wasn't the prettiest game, but it offered some revenge, both on the ice and on the scoreboard. Bullets after the jump.
First and foremost, let's keep things civil with On the Forecheck. There was a lot of bad shit that went back and forth the last 2 days, and thankfully nothing controversial happened, so there's no need to be an idiot over there. If you do want to go over and comment, know that you do so on your own, and any repercussions are yours to bear. I'd advise you to keep any and all trolling comments to yourself, or if you have to publish them, do them here and know that we won't protect you.
- There were a number of us that predicted no physical retribution from any Red Wing player for the Shea Weber-Henrik Zetterberg incident in Game 1. However, Todd Bertuzzi, fresh off his destruction of a defenseless Paul Gaustad at the end of Game 1, took on the innocent Weber in a somewhat spirited fight. It was great to get all the crap out of the way, and it prevented Weber from being on the Preds' potent power play early in the first when an early goal would have been devastating.
- Speaking of Bertuzzi, he played with a fire and intensity we don't often see but was very welcome in a playoff game. Besides his fight with Weber, he was in Rinne's face, engaging with the Predators players and generally a pain to play against. Johan Franzen also entered beast mode after getting cut with a high stick in the first period that wasn't called, taking out his rage on the Predators. Those 2 guys playing with a stick up their ass (probably lodged there by Mike Fisher) will go a long way to the Wings advancing.
- Any Predator fans want to talk to me again about the huge advantage Nashville has in depth players? I guess Mike Babcock wasn't so wrong, eh?
- Mike Babcock talked at length about going to the net, and the WIngs did that a lot tonight. Franzen's goal was a direct result of his parking his fat ass right in front of Pekka Rinne, who must have missed the "staying on your feet" portion of skating class. 2 of the Wings goals were off shots from further out, but they created a lot of chances from in close.
- Watching Dan Cleary try and skate through his myriad of injuries while still giving it his all reminds me of Steve Yzerman in 2002. Except without, you know, the goal scoring and awesome leadership and all that.
- Of course Shea Weber scored.
- I guess all the Red Wings players forgot the ceremonial "Bang a guy's head into the glass after you win" celebration.
- I don't know what kind of drugs Peters and Blashill have been slipping into the penalty killers' water, but I want some. Based on the results, I'm pretty sure I'd drop 30 pounds and grow hair. That's 12 straight kills in this series, and in 8 games this season, the NHL's number 1 power play has scored exactly 3 PPG against the Wings.
- Jimmy Howard is out-playing Pekka Rinne in this series, and it's not even close. Howard was outstanding tonight, especially in the third period when the Wings sat back and allowed the Predators to come at them in waves. He stopped 10 of 11 shots in the third, and did so through a lot of traffic. He's been nothing short of outstanding in the first 2 games, and once again he's your Player of the Game.
- It wasn't all hookers and unicorns. The CORSI show that the line of Radulov, Andrei Kostitsyn and David Legwand really controlled play while on the ice. The Wings were also very loose in the defensive zone in the first period, and gave up a lot of quality scoring chances. There's a few things to tighten up, but all in all it was a solid performance.
There were a couple of very interesting quotes after the game. First, here was Mike Babcock's response to Bertuzzi's fight with Weber:
"I just thought that the incident the other night wasn't part of hockey," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "I haven't seen it since junior hockey. I thought it was unacceptable, and I think sometimes, when things don't get looked after, you have to look after it yourself.
"I didn't think things were looked after, at all."
"He took care of it, showing that we're not going to accept that," captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "It didn't become a distraction to our team. It was handled early on, and then we moved on to play the game, and it was a hard fought game, but it was great just to see the way our team responded to it."