DETROIT -- The Nashville Predators won a hard-fought 3-2 game at Joe Louis Arena on Sunday afternoon and did it with a pair of rookie defensemen on the back end.
Ryan Ellis joined fellow rookie Roman Josi in the starting lineup for Game 3 of a Stanley Cup Playoffs Quarterfinals series between the Predators and Detroit Red Wings -- which was his NHL playoffs debut.
Josi played in the first two games, while Ellis replaced Jack Hillen on Sunday in a continuing effort to replace veteran defenseman Hal Gill -- who missed his third playoff game and fourth game overall with a lower-body injury that happened blocking a shot in the second to last game of the regular season.
Ellis played just 7:50, but delivered three hits and had one of 19 blocked shots for the Preds.
"I was a little nervous," Ellis said. "It's quick out there, a faster pace than a regular game. It's nice to win. Whether it be big or small, it's better to win."
Like Josi, Ellis also made his NHL debut this season facing the Red Wings.
"It’s definitely nice to make the debut here," said Ellis, who played junior hockey just across the Detroit River for the OHL's Windsor Spitfires. "It would have been nice to play the first two, but whatever the team has to do to win. I’m just here to be a part of that."
Nashville coach Barry Trotz was just glad the talented rookie blueliner got his playoff debut out of the way.
"I thought he played pretty well," Trotz said. "He’s a young guy playing in 'The Joe.' I know he's from across the river, so I know he's very familiar with 'The Joe' and the atmosphere. I thought he played pretty well. He's one of the most intelligent players you'll come across. More than anything, he's a winner. He's been a winner at every level. I was real happy for his first game. I know he was excited, but I don't think he gets too rattled. He was very composed."