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Mully's Musings: vs DET

by Bryan Mullen / Nashville Predators
The Nashville Predators are known as a pugnacious bunch, quick to get down and dirty and create a positive situation when they are challenged.

On Monday night, the challenge proved to be too tough.

With Preds Captain Shea Weber out with an upper-body injury, Detroit ended a two-game losing skid and handled Nashville en route to a 4-1 victory in front of a sold-out crowd of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena. The Red Wings avenged a 4-3 loss to Nashville on Dec. 15 when Weber scored two goals late in regulation to stun Detroit.

This time around, however, the Preds were the ones left a tad stunned as they saw their five-game home win streak snapped. Holding a 1-0 lead midway through the second, Detroit scored two goals in a 13-second span to take control of the game. The tallies came from Pavel Datsyuk and Danny Cleary. The Red Wings’ Valtteri Filppula had the bookend goals.

With Weber out and Kevin Klein suffering from the flu, Nashville was inexperienced on defense. Three of the Preds defenders who were available against Detroit were rookies. On to the musings…

NHL debut for Ellis: Early Monday, Ryan Ellis got the call every young player wants. He was being recalled and would play in his first NHL hockey game. On top of that, it would be against Detroit. The heralded defenseman who had a remarkable junior career was solid in his NHL debut. He was paired with Jack Hillen and Ryan Suter at different times and didn’t show any nerves. He was aggressive on the power play and fired three shots during one sequence. He was also called for interference on Darren Helm with 4:02 to go in the first, but Nashville killed it off. Depending on how long Ellis stays up, he will gain more experience and learn tendencies. What is apparent is the heady way he plays the game.

Big hole to fill: The importance of Weber to his team is widely known, but it’s only truly appreciated when he misses a game. Weber missed his first game in nearly two years with an upper-body injury. The Preds had to scramble to fill his spot on the ice, and it was clear Monday few people in the game could truly fill his absence. Among all defensemen, he is second in goals (eight), fourth in assists (21), second in points (29) and sixth in +/- rating (+14). Weber is also fourth in the NHL in total ice time per game (26:20). After the game, Nashville coach Barry Trotz said he would have a better indication on Weber’s situation on Tuesday and “hopefully he bounces back real quick.”

Goal or no goal?:
A weird sequence took place at 12:52 of the second when Datsyuk attempted a wraparound shot on Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne. It appeared Rinne had stopped the puck, and one official pointed to the faceoff circle after the play stopped. But after a video review, it was ruled that a goal was scored. Here is Trotz with the explanation: “The referee and linesmen communicated quite well. The referee came over and said he didn’t see the puck. Originally, you saw him pointing to the faceoff circle, so that was our first look. Any (official) if they see the puck go in the net, they can overrule that. One of the linesmen saw it in the net definitely, and they conversed with Toronto. I couldn’t see it, honestly. As I said to them, the puck was probably in, but I don’t know if it was conclusively in. They went through the procedure.”

F Mike Fisher: “They’re a great team and they buried their chances. I thought we out-chanced them tonight, and (Jimmy) Howard stood firm. It wasn’t our night, but it was a decent effort.”

D Ryan Ellis on what he can take into his next game: “Just the pace of the game and how simple you have to make the game. We have a good team here. If you can move the puck, you can rely on the other guys to make the plays. The main thing is to just simplify everything.”

Barry Trotz: “I thought we responded pretty well. I think we played as well as Detroit, maybe even better. We held them to 22 shots and we had more chances. I think the star of the game was Jimmy Howard. He made key saves at key times.”

G Jimmy Howard, Detroit: Stopped 31 of 32 shots
F Valtteri Filppula, Detroit: 2 goals, +2 rating
F Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit: 1 goal, +1 rating

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