NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Tomas Vokoun made the Nashville Predators' first
home playoff game in their six-year history a memory to savor.
Vokoun came up with 22 of his 41 saves in the third period and the Predators
beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 Sunday for their first playoff victory, pulling
within 2-1 in the first-round series.
David Legwand scored a short-handed goal, Adam Hall had a goal and an assist
and Scott Hartnell padded the lead with a goal as the Predators finally made
some postseason history they can enjoy.
``Obviously, this is an important game,'' Nashville coach Barry Trotz said.
``Detroit is a veteran team, and they wanted to put a nail in the coffin today,
and we didn't let them. Hopefully, we can continue to make this a series.''
The Predators started celebrating this historic moment by throwing a party
outside the arena for their fans, and they had such stars as country singer
Vince Gill on hand inside to mark the occasion.
The Red Wings looked ready to spoil the day as they outshot Nashville 15-1
in the first 15 minutes.
But Vokoun, the only reason why the Predators have stayed close in this
series, more than atoned for having the winning goal bounce in off his skate in
Detroit's 2-1 victory Saturday. He gave his teammates the chance to cool off
the Red Wings.
``Vokoun played unbelievable,'' Detroit goalie Manny Legace said. ``He stood
on his head and stole the game.''
He stopped Detroit early, and he was at his best in protecting Nashville's
lead in the third period. Brett Hull scored his first goal this postseason at
5:21 of the third to avoid the shutout; Detroit now has outscored Nashville 5-1
in the third period this series.
That would be it.
Vokoun stopped Hull twice at the net early in the period, and he had a kick
save off Mathieu Schneider, who got credit for Saturday's winning goal. Greg
Johnson made the biggest save with Nashville leading 2-1 when he cleared the
puck from the crease after it slipped through Vokoun's legs on a shot by Jiri
Fischer from the blue line.
Detroit forward Brendan Shanahan said Vokoun was the difference.
``Those weren't routine saves that he was making. A few of them he didn't
even see the puck, so we're getting good traffic, getting good shots. (We've)
just got to stick with it,'' Shanahan said.
Vokoun stopped short of calling it his best game.
``But it's more the timing of it, to get the first win for the team in the
playoffs. The playoffs are fun, and I'm having a lot of fun,'' Vokoun said.
Game 4 will be Tuesday night in Nashville.
Goals had been very scarce for the Predators, with a stingy Legace giving up
only two over the first 138 minutes of the series. Detroit had outshot the
Predators 12-2 when Nashville finally got going with a flurry in the final two
minutes of the first period.
With the Red Wings on the power play, Legwand, a Detroit native, stole a
pass from Derian Hatcher just inside the zone. He skated down ice and scored
his first playoff goal over Legace's right pad.
That got the Predators going, and Legace had to stop Johnson with his left
pad on a two-on-one seconds later. Kirk Maltby helped swat away the puck as it
floated through the air in front of the goal.
Then Hall, of Kalamazoo, Mich., got his second playoff goal, scoring from
the right circle at 19:45 of the period off assists from Johnson and Jason
York. That brought the fans to their feet for a standing ovation and a
much-needed boost for Nashville.
``Anybody who was here felt the energy,'' Vokoun said. ``The fans were
unbelievable. It was the best moment since I've been in Nashville.''
Hartnell provided the final edge when he squeezed the puck between Legace's
left foot and the post off a perfect pass from Hall with 3:57 remaining. The
Red Wings pulled Legace with 1:56 left, but Vokoun stopped Shanahan at the post
in the final seconds.