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Recap: Preds’ Power Play Perforates Red Wings, 2-0 Loss for the Good Guys

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NHL: Nashville Predators at Detroit Red Wings Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

First Period

The early going was a good battle between the Wings and Preds. Up to the first commercial break the shots were tied, with Detroit possessing the puck more but Nashville getting the best chance off a giveaway, but Bernier skated to the edge of the crease and stopped the Nashville shot dead from the right circle.

Nashville would go to the power play first thanks to an interference call against Jon Merrill. DeKeyser and Helm both had nice plays on the PK thanks to a stick knocking a pass out of the air in DK’s case and trapping the puck along the boards in Helm’s case.

Helm continued to have a good period and came close to giving Detroit the lead. He had Pekka Rinne beat from the low circle after dragging the puck behind the net, but he didn’t have the post beat.

Filppula, Namestnikov, and Nielsen combined to nearly score a goal as well, again by getting behind Rinne and attempting to tee up a forward in the slot. Unfortunately, Nielsen thought Nashville’s goal was on the moon because that’s where he sent the puck.

Nashville got a dangerous chance on a similar play just a few shifts later, but there’s was extra scary because Bernier actually had to make a stop. Bernier stood tall, though, to keep the game scoreless.

Score: 0-0 Tie
Shots: 9-8 Nashville
Stand Outs: Larkin, Bernier, Helm, DeKeyser
Sit Downs: Hronek

Second Period

After a third of the period I hadn’t written anything yet because honestly, there wasn't a whole lot to say. Lots of back and forth without too much in the way of dangerous scoring chances. Nashville did sustain pressure for about a minute in the Wings’ zone, but Detroit did a great job of holding the Preds to the perimeter.

I guess the most distinct thought I had in the period was “if the Wings are going to win this, Larkin is going to need to be in on all the points,” because he was far and away the best player on the ice, and the only one who looked exceptionally dangerous.

Erne did get sent to the box because Marc Staal tripped a Mikael Granlund (yes, that is correct,) but the PK looked great again and Nemeth threw a Hail Mary to Helm late in the PK, who got held up by Roman Josi, to give the Wings the man advantage.

The power play looked pretty good but didn’t feel good, as it failed to convert for the billionth time in a row.

Filppula ended up finding some space and had a great opportunity in some empty ice against Rinne. The shot was good, but Rinne went high and deflected it off his shoulder. Surprisingly good shot from Filppula, really.

Nashville did apply some good pressure late in the period and Bernier made a number of solid stops. Blash made the right choice in starting him tonight over Greiss. Greiss has played well, too, but with such a tightly run affair the game was shaping up to be, a greater degree of pressure gets placed on the goalie since and goal could be the dagger. Solid play overall by Bernier through two periods.

The Wings had a 4-on-2 and Brome blew the opportunity by passing to no-one, which set up a Nashville 2-on-2 nicely. Erne lost an edge and crashed into Bernier, allowing Forsberg to easily toss it over Bernier to make it 1-0 Nashville.

Except Blash would challenge the goal in light of Granlund kicking Bernier’s foot before Erne crashed into him, so we’re back to 0-0 tie.

And that’s the way the period would close. Real barn-burner.

Score: 0-0 Tie
Shots: 19-13 Nashville
Stand Outs: Bernier, Larkin
Sit Downs: Merrill

Third Period

I wasn’t too happy with how Hronek had played thus far in the game, but credit where credit is due, the Czech broke up a great Nashville scoring opportunity early.

Larkin took the puck the other way nearly 200 feet and the ensuing sequence led to Rinne being about a mile out of the net and the puck sitting loose in the crease, but the Granlund boxed Larkin out of the way, allowing Borowiecki cleared the puck.

Bernier made two great saves at point blank at the other end shortly after to keep the game tied.

Namestnikov would go to the box for holding after grappling Rocco Grimaldi from behind on the backcheck. And of course Forsberg redirected a shot off Staal’s stick to make the game 1-0 Nashville.

Nashville would get another opportunity on the power play five minutes later via a Nemeth hooking call. Eeli Tolvanen would convert on a dart of a shot from the right circle to make it 2-0 Nashville.

The Wings would push back hard in the waning minutes of the period but would be unable to get on the board to seal a 2-0 loss and ending any hope of putting together back-to-back wins for the time being.

Score: 2-0 Nashville
Shots: 33-24 Nashville
Stand Outs: Larkin
Sit Downs: Namestnikov, the Penalty Kill

Conclusion

Over the second half of the game, Nashville gradually asserted itself as the better team, and Detroit paid for it. Larkin, Helm, and Bernier had good games, with Mantha and DeKeyser holding their own as well. Honestly, it wasn’t the most exciting game, but the second and third lines felt inconsistent in their ability to get anything going. Larkin felt like the best player on ice for most of the night (Josi had a really nice game, though) but tonight more than other nights Detroit felt like a one-line team again. These two teams will get another crack at it on Thursday, though, so Detroit will look to even things up then.