Winning hockey is getting to be a Thanksgiving tradition in Nashville.
For the third straight year, the Predators treated a holiday crowd to a victory, as Radek Bonk’s goal early in the third period lifted the Preds to a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings.
Nashville trailed 1-0 and 2-1, but pulled even each time before Bonk took a perfect feed in the slot from Martin Erat and ripped a shot past Dominik Hasek to give the Predators their first lead of the night ( 700K ).
“I tried to get it off my stick as fast as I could, I didn’t have a lot of time,” Bonk said after scoring his team-high ninth goal. “I was happy to get a goal and get us the lead. After that everybody did a great job getting the win for us.”
“Everybody” included goalie Chris Mason, who stopped all 10 shots he faced in the third period to preserve the win.
The Predators ended a stretch of eight consecutive contests against Central Division opponents with a 5-1-2 record. They’re now 7-1-2 in November.
“I think it is very important how you do in your division because those are the bulk of your games,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “We go through this stretch, and it is a pretty good start in the gauntlet of our divisional games, because it is almost like individual playoff series against each team in your division.”
Nashville never trailed in beating Los Angeles and Vancouver on the past two Thanksgiving games. But the Red Wings went ahead just 2:49 into the game when Johan Franzen’s soft backhander got past Mason during a power play ( 700K ).
The Wings had the Preds on the ropes, but Nashville killed off three consecutive penalties, including a 5-on-3 for 1:12.
“That was huge – 1:12 of five-on-three with those guys was a real test,” Mason said. “Our killers did a great job getting in the passing lanes and getting clears. We didn’t give them second chances, and just did an awesome job. That kill was huge for us.”
The Predators tied the score with 7:40 left in the period when Jason Arnott ripped a shot that went off the goal post and into the net ( 700K ). Prior to Arnott’s goal, Detroit had outshot the Predators 12-1.
Henrik Zetterberg put the Wings back in front with 1:24 left in the second period ( 700K ) when he deked his way through the defense and beat Mason with a wrist shot. But Erat tied it 32 seconds later, lifting a rebound over a sprawling Hasek ( 700K ).
There were 15 power plays in the game, and Detroit coach Mike Babcock felt all that special-teams time wasn’t good for his club.
“We have had too many penalty-kill opportunities the last couple of games and we have killed certain guys on our team,'' Babcock said. ''There was a lot of specialty teams play. I don't think that was to our advantage. We have played the same guys over and over the past couple of games. When you do that, you don't have the kind of spark that you need.''
Beating the Central Division leaders was a nice way to spend Thanksgiving for the Predators.
“Anytime we play them it is a big rivalry and a big game,” Arnott said. “It is and emotional game – they are the best in the league right now and we proved we can play with them. It was a battle and we were fortunate to come out on top.”
Blackhawks 2, Flames 1
The next time the Chicago Blackhawks commit a penalty that leads to a power play, maybe the opposition should decline. The Hawks continue to be the NHL’s most dangerous shorthanded team, scoring their ninth and 10th goals while playing a man down to beat the Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
|Chicago's Jacob Dowell scores a short handed goal on Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff during second period.
Patrick Sharp scored his league-high fifth shorthander 32 seconds into the final period to break a 1-1 tie. Defenseman Adrian Aucoin was unable to play a bobbling pass at the Chicago blue line and Sharp raced past him on a breakaway before beating Miikka Kiprusoff.
"Tonight, everybody gave everything they had for 60 minutes, and we were rewarded with a win," said Sharp, who had more shorthanded goals than every other team except Ottawa, which also has five. "Our forwards got good speed up ice, did the work, and I can't really explain it better than that."
The Blackhawks were outplayed badly at even strength, but the Flames couldn’t turn their domination into goals.
“Five-on-five, we did exactly what we wanted to do,” center Chris Conroy said. It’s frustrating to put on pressure like that and have nothing happen. It’s frustrating – we did everything we wanted to do and didn’t win.”
Rookie Jacob Dowell, making his NHL debut, also scored on a shorthanded breakaway, beating Kiprusoff 5:29 into the second period. The Hawks mustered little else offensively, but Nikolai Khabibulin made 30 saves, 15 in the final period, as Chicago improved to 5-1-1 in its last seven games.
“He’s been great for us,” defenseman Duncan Keith said of Khabibulin. “He gives us a lot of confidence back there.”
Jarome Iginla, playing his 800th NHL game, scored a power-play goal at 12:17 of the second period for the frustrated Flames.
“We had opportunities,” Conroy said. “We have to be better.”
Avalanche 3, Oilers 2 | Video
Colorado’s road woes came to an end in Edmonton, where the Oilers spent so much time killing penalties that they had little juice left for offense.
The Avalanche was 0-for-8 on the power play, though they scored four seconds after a second-period advantage ended. But the parade to the penalty box kept the Oilers from
mounting much offense. Colorado outshot Edmonton 16-2 in the second period, when the Avs had four power plays, and 31-16 for the game. Marek Svatos’ goal at 10:33 of the second period ( 700K ) broke a 2-2 tie and put Colorado into first place in the Northwest Division.
“Give them credit for how strong they were on the puck,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. “We took four penalties in the second period, and when you play that many minutes shorthanded, it’s tough.”
Svatos put the Avalanche ahead for the third time midway through the second period. He picked up his own rebound and appeared to direct the puck in with his skate, but a video review showed he was able to touch the puck with his stick just as it was crossing the goal line.
“I tried to stop the puck with my skate,” he said. “I got it with the tip of my stick.”
Former Oiler Ryan Smyth set up Karlis Skrastins’ goal at 6:43 ( 700K ) to put Colorado in front. The Oilers tied it at 16:31 on Shawn Horcoff’s power-play goal ( 700K ). Milan Hedjuk’s tip-in at 6:35 of the second period ( 700K ) made it 2-1, but Ales Hemsky one-timed Horcoff’s pass behind Peter Budaj 41 seconds later ( 700K ) to tie the score again before Svatos put the Avs ahead to stay.
“On the winning goal, we turned the puck over three times and wound up digging it out of our net,” MacTavish said.
Colorado ended a four-game losing streak on the road, though the Avs are still just 3-7-1 away from home.
“We salvaged the trip with tonight’s win,” Avs coach Joel Quenneville said. “I thought we played a real good road game. We had first place on the line going into this game and that was a big motivator for us.”
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media were used it this report.