DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings were hoping to stick with Dominik Hasek when the playoffs began after rotating the goalie with Chris Osgood in the regular season.
The six-time Vezina Trophy winner, though, was so shaky in a series-evening loss that coach Mike Babcock was compelled to make a move. Hasek out. Osgood in.
"This is Plan B," Babcock acknowledged Thursday. "But Plan B is Chris Osgood and I think he won 29 games and had the best goals-against average in the NHL."
Hasek was benched after giving up three goals on 14 shots Wednesday night a 3-2 loss at Nashville. Osgood had 13 saves in relief.
Osgood will start when Detroit hosts the pivotal Game 5 in the best-of-seven series Friday night.
"I know I can do the job," said Osgood, speaking coyly about his role before Hasek broke the news. "I'm 100-per cent ready."
The Red Wings are counting on that, hoping the switch in net helps them like it did in 2004 against the Predators in their franchise's first playoff series.
Then-Detroit coach Dave Lewis pulled Manny Legace in Game 4 and replaced him with Curtis Joseph, who helped the Red Wings win the next two games to eliminate Nashville.
"Ozzie has an opportunity," Babcock said. "We'll see what he does with it."
The Predators know if they're going to play in the second round for the first time in four attempts, they have to snap their 0-for-9 skid on the road in the playoffs.
"We talked about that," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "If we're going to win this series, we have to win one at the Joe.
"We're not intimidated by that."
Despite playing in his first post-season, Nashville's Dan Ellis certainly has not been fainthearted against the NHL's top-seeded team.
Ellis led the league with a .924 save percentage in the regular season and has matched that average in the playoffs, giving up less than three goals a game, and made 39 saves in Game 4.
"Going back there for Game 5, now on equal footing, it's a big thing for us," Ellis said.
The Red Wings are trying to say the right things about their goaltending situation, downplaying the significance of Babcock's move as if its simply another lineup change.
They played Osgood in 43 games to Hasek's 41, following a plan to rest the 43-year-old player who has been named the NHL's best goalie six times and its top player overall twice.
"Now, it's Ozzie's time to step up," Hasek said. "It worked all year. So, now we try it this time."
Osgood had an NHL-low 2.09 goals-against average this season and Hasek ranked fourth with a 2.14 GAA.
When Detroit won its second straight Stanley Cup in 1998, Osgood was the No. 1 goaltender, and he is 45-37 in the post-season with the Red Wings, New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues. Hasek led the storied Red Wings to a title in 2002 and is 65-49 with Chicago, Buffalo and Detroit in the post-season.
"We've been here before," Osgood said. "We'll rely on our experience."
Not many Predators know what it is like to make long playoff runs, but they are well aware of how important Game 5 is with the series tied.
"Whoever wins is going to have a big advantage in the series," Nashville centre David Legwand said. "It's a best two out of three right now. Just puts all the pressure on tomorrow's game."