Predators-Red Wings Preview
GAME: Nashville Predators at Detroit Red Wings.
PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference quarterfinals; tied 2-2.
TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EDT.
Nashville Predators goaltender Tomas Vokoun has made it clear that he's
unimpressed and not intimidated by the Detroit Red Wings.
Now, he's taking extra satisfaction in backing up his words.
Coming off his first career postseason shutout, Vokoun tries to lead the
Predators within one win of eliminating the top-seeded Red Wings when the
first-round series moves back to Joe Louis Arena for Game 5.
A second consecutive stellar performance by Vokoun on Tuesday night pulled
Nashville even in the series, as he made 41 saves to defeat Detroit 3-0.
Vokoun stopped 41 shots in a 3-1 victory Sunday and called the Wings
arrogant whiners afterward, and implied that Detroit wasn't a better team than
Nashville. The 27-year-old Vokoun seems intensely focused on proving his point.
"It's great. I was happy, ... and you want to stay down to earth," he said
after Tuesday's win. "It's 2-2, and I wish that was a 40 (save) shutout in
Game 7 and we won and you could enjoy it more. I'm going to enjoy it. It's
great. There's not much better you can do."
Steve Sullivan, Vladimir Orszagh and Greg Johnson scored for Nashville, and
Dan Hamhuis had two assists as the Predators ensured a return visit to Music
City for Game 6 on Saturday.
That wouldn't have been possible without Vokoun.
"I think he's got some kind of plexiglass behind him no one can see,"
For Detroit, this series seems to be taking a familiar - and unwelcome -
turn. The Red Wings were upset in the first round in 2001 and last year after
running into a pair of hot goalies (Los Angeles' Felix Potvin in '01 and
Anaheim's Jean-Sebastien Giguere in '03).
"We just have to find a way to win a hockey game," said Detroit forward
Darren McCarty, who admitted the Red Wings might be a little frustrated. "The
good thing is we're going back to the Joe for Game 5. We've been here before.
It's not the way we would have wanted it to go, but it's the way it's gone.
We've got a series."
Detroit needs to do something to shake Nashville's confidence, which has
increased with each game. Vokoun's fearless attitude appears to have rubbed off
on Predators fans, as the energetic Gaylord Entertainment Center crowd drowned
out Detroit fans chanting "Let's go Red Wings" with "Chelios is a sissy" on
While Vokoun has been the Predators' best player, Wings goalie Manny Legace
has been shaky since winning Games 1 and 2. He was replaced early in the third
period Tuesday night by Curtis Joseph after allowing three goals on just 11
shots, and that change will remain for Game 5.
"You always want to play. It's a fun time of the year," said Joseph, who
was informed Wednesday by coach Dave Lewis that he would start. "I've worked
hard on the (sprained right) ankle with the trainers for this opportunity."
Joseph was first injured Feb. 11 and missed a month. He played in five games
before re-aggravating the ankle during warmups March 23 at San Jose.
Nobody scored more goals in the regular season than the Red Wings in winning
the Presidents' Trophy, but Detroit's top offensive players need to get going
for the Wings to regain control of the series. Pavel Datsyuk had 30 goals
during the regular season, but he has only one assist in the four games.
Mathieu Schneider, Robert Lang and Tomas Holmstrom all had at least one
point in each of the first two games, but haven't had a single point in the
last two games.
The Wings went 0-for-5 on the power play Tuesday and are 1-for-20 in the
"I think we just have to calm down, focus on just doing the little things
that bring us success and not so much worry about things that are out of our
control," Detroit forward Brendan Shanahan said.
Of course, the Red Wings' struggles are due in large part to Vokoun, who
seems unconcerned by how many pucks Detroit has thrown at him.
"We give up a lot of shots, but a lot of shots I'm able to see and they
have got to be doing something right. It's all about that. If you can see, you
can stop it," Vokoun said.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Predators - 91 points, 8th seed. Red Wings - 109 points,
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Predators - Adam Hall, 2 goals; four with 2 assists;
Hall, Johnson and Scott Hartnell, 3 points; Kimmo Timonen, 10 PIM. Red Wings -
Lang, 2 goals and 3 points; Kirk Maltby and Shanahan, 2 assists; Shanahan, 12
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Predators - Power play: 0.0 percent (0 for 19).
Penalty killing: 95.0 percent (19 for 20). Red Wings - Power play: 5.0 percent
(1 for 20). Penalty killing: 100 percent (19 for 19).
GOALTENDERS: Predators - Vokoun (2-2, 1 SO, 1.51); Chris Mason (no
appearances). Red Wings - Legace (2-2, 2.18); Joseph (0-0-0, 0.00).