Bill Roose, bless him, had a whale of a time figuring out whether Brendan Smith was going to be out of the lineup tonight because of Logan Couture's slew-foot on him on Thursday. Thankfully, Smith was in the lineup because he finished off a great rush and potted home a sweet Joakim Andersson pass for a 1-0 Red Wings lead. Ken Daniels on the play-by-play even said, "From maybe not playing to opening the scoring!"
It was not all rosy for Detroit in the first. Darren Helm was announced as out with an upper-body injury. Fox Sports Detroit showed before the second period started that Helm was probably hurt when Seth Jones hit him against the boards and Helm's face happened to be level with the top ledge of the boards. Nothing about the play was dirty, which is more than can be said for some of the other extra-curricular activity that went on today. It was just unfortunate for Helm.
Drew Miller woke everybody up for the second period, taking the puck from his own zone and firing a shot from the right circle between Pekka Rinne's arm and body for a 2-0 Detroit lead. Something about the NHL and two-goal leads makes them not last very long, however, so Nashville got one back when Matt Cullen finished off a faceoff win when Roman Josi fired a shot from the point. The Predators got some luck when Cody Franson fed a puck down low, the puck took a weird carom off the boards right onto Mike Fisher's stick, and it was a tie game.
Tomas Tatar and Colin Wilson got matching unsportsmanlike conduct penalties because the linesmen were so obsessed with getting the faceoff configurations right instead of just dropping the puck. Brendan Smith got a penalty soon after for putting his hand on the crest of a Preds dude, and Shea Weber did what Shea Weber does on the 4-on-3 power play. Nashville took the 3-2 lead to the locker room.
Brendan Smith got involved in another penalty, this time supposedly interfering with Filip Forsberg, but Forsberg also got hit with a diving penalty. In the resulting 4-on-4, Justin Abdelkader got the puck in the slot with his back to the net and fed Alexey Marchenko, who did the rest.
Marchenko's first NHL goal and it was a beauty, and more importantly, it tied the game.
On a Red Wings power play later in the period, Niklas Kronwall fed Pavel Datsyuk with a nice pass through the neutral zone. Datsyuk carried the puck over the blue line and gave it to Tomas Tatar who tried to give it back to Datsyuk and instead got a goal out of it when it deflected off a Predators defenseman. Not just any goal, but the GAME WINNER!!!
- 4-1-1 on the six-game road trip. Wins in Nashville and Chicago. I'd say this was a successful trip.
- Stephen Weiss took Darren Helm's spot on the line with Tatar and Datsyuk. It's a pretty well-deserved promotion for how well he's played, but if Helm has to be out for any length of time, I hope it results in more productive results for Weiss.
- Why does it feel like every game in Nashville requires a sacrifice of a roster player to injury?
- Jonas Gustavsson had his usual nerve-wracking moments because he's Jonas Gustavsson, but man, he kept Detroit in this. Monster took care of business in the first period, had a fantastic save on Mike Santorelli in the second, and shut the door in the third, albeit making some incredibly unorthodox-looking saves. He wasn't his usual knee-jerky self, which was nice to see.
- Glad to see that James Neal hasn't changed.
- Brendan Smith was involved in this game. He scored the goal, he was called for some penalties, and he had some penalties committed against him, including Forsberg's dive and Neal's high-sticking penalty, which was more appropriately a shot to the head.
- And finally, let's show some love for the fourth line. Joakim Andersson made a great pass to set up Brendan Smith's first goal, and even before Drew Miller scored his goal, that whole unit had great shifts in the offensive zone. All that depth scoring is going to keep the Red Wings rolling while Henrik Zetterberg and Darren Helm are on the mend.
Keep saying it. 4-1-1, including 1-1-1 against California. One point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning with two games in hand even after today's game. Swept the season series with Chicago and Nashville. I think I like our team.
It's stretch-run time, and it continues at Joe Louis Arena against the New York Rangers on Wednesday Night.