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Decisions, decisions for Red Wings

by Brian Compton / NHL.com

Last night, the Nashville Predators evened their playoff series by beating the Red Wings 3-2. Watch the Preds even the series
A few thoughts as we say goodbye to the Ottawa Senators:

Broken Wings? – Pardon the Mr. Mister reference, but are the Detroit Red Wings on the verge of yet another bitter disappointment?

Mike Babcock’s club wakes up this morning with no series lead after four first-round games against Nashville. Heck, he hasn’t even made up his mind as to which goaltender will start Game 5 after the Predators chased Dominik Hasek in Wednesday night’s 3-2 victory at the Sommet Center.
   
Hasek allowed three goals on 14 shots before being pulled midway through the second period. Chris Osgood, one of the most underrated performers at any position this season, came in and stopped all 13 shots he faced.
   
So, Coach, who gets the start in Friday night’s Game 5?
   
“I want to take a deep breath,” Babcock said.
   
Friday’s game will be a difficult task for the Wings, regardless of who gets the start. Nashville is rolling, although it will have to find a way to win in Detroit, something it has never done in the postseason.
   
“We’re on even ground now,” Preds forward Jordin Tootoo said. “It’s best out of three now.”

Role Reversal – One year ago, it was the Ottawa Senators saying goodbye to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“Obviously it was a different situation last year and we definitely went through some learning experiences there, but we responded well here in the first round. Most of us, our first playoff memory was losing here, so that’s changed now.” - Penguins captain Sidney Crosby
Wednesday night at Scotiabank Place, it was Sidney Crosby and the Pens sending the reeling Sens home for the summer, winning Wednesday’s Game 4, 3-1. Pittsburgh swept Ottawa in four straight after losing to the Sens in five first-round games last April.
   
“It feels great,” said Sidney Crosby, who sealed Ottawa’s fate with an empty-net goal. “Obviously it was a different situation last year and we definitely went through some learning experiences there, but we responded well here in the first round. Most of us, our first playoff memory was losing here, so that’s changed now.”
   
It’s also quite a change for the Senators, who went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final last spring before falling in five games to the Anaheim Ducks. This season, Ottawa cruised out to an early lead in the Eastern Conference before the wheels came off, which led to the firing of coach John Paddock. Bryan Murray, the GM and last year’s coach, couldn’t do much to fix it, as the Sens dealt with various injuries and on-ice struggles for basically the entire second half of the season.
   
It was almost like watching The Sopranos. You sit there saying, “Wow, this is good. Wow, this is good.” And then it ends with a black screen and you say, “What the heck was that?”
   
“Watching the team -- like everybody has brought up a thousand times -- we looked like we had a promising season ahead of us,” Murray said. “We just didn’t play over the course of the latter part of the year the way we had been playing.”
       
No Fluke – New York’s Marc Staal was probably sick to his stomach Monday night as he watched the New Jersey Devils celebrate John Madden’s overtime goal in Game 3 at Madison Square Garden.

Marc Staal helped give the Rangers a 3-1 series lead last night by breaking a 3-3 tie in the third period. Watch Staal's goal
Wednesday, just 48 hours after Madden’s shot went off Staal’s skate and past Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers’ rookie defenseman put the Devils on the brink of elimination when he broke a 3-3 tie at 16:47 of the third period with a seeing-eye slapper in an eventual 5-3 win at MSG.

The Blueshirts have a three-games-to-one series lead and can send the Devils to the golf course with a win in Friday night’s Game 5 at the Prudential Center. New York won the first two games of this best-of-seven series at The Rock.
   
“I don’t know if I deserve it, but obviously, it’s a pretty good feeling to do that after what happened in Game 3,” Staal said. “It’s a little bit of redemption after that goal in overtime.”
   
Staal’s teammates were ecstatic. After all, it wasn’t as if the rookie fired the puck into his own net Monday.
   
“There was nothing he or I could do on that play,” Lundqvist said. “It happened so fast; just a bad break. It feels great to see him get that big blast to go in. Probably one of the more important goals of his career, and there’s going to be a lot more.”
   
Rangers center Scott Gomez agreed.
   
“What can you say about this kid? He’s a special one,” Gomez gushed. “The whole series, he’s just been awesome. New York City should be pretty excited about this kid, because he’s a gem.”
   
Staying Put – It was only a few months ago when Sergei Samsonov was toiling in the American Hockey League.
   
Wednesday, he landed some security with an NHL club.
After being claimed off waivers from the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 8, Samsonov was rewarded Wednesday for his play with the Carolina Hurricanes with a new three-year contract worth $7.6 million.

The 29-year-old had 14 goals, 18 assists and a plus-9 rating in 39 games for Carolina.
   
“We were very excited about Sergei’s play after he arrived in Carolina,” Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford said. “It was important to the success of our team going forward that we keep him here.”

Contact Brian Compton at: bcompton@nhl.com.



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