Photo by John Russell
Predators forward Peter Forsberg nets the overtime game-winner to give the Predators a 4-3 win vs. Detroit Saturday.
Peter Forsberg's much anticipated first goal as a Predator came at an opportune time. Paul Kariya, who finished the night with two goals and the game-winning assist, set up Forsberg 2:11 into overtime to give the Nashville Predators a 4-3 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings Saturday night at a sold-out and electric Nashville Arena.
The victory, in which the Predators overcame one-goal deficits twice despite the absence of two of their four 20-goal scorers (Steve Sullivan and Scott Hartnell), improved Nashville's record to 41-18-4 and pulled the Preds into a tie with Detroit atop the Central Division and Western Conference standings with 86 points.
Forsberg's goal came with the teams skating four-on-four during the five-minute sudden-death overtime session, and was the flourish at the end of a masterful play created by Kariya. The trio of Marek Zidlicky, Kariya and Forsberg cycled the puck clockwise for a number of seconds along the right-side boards just inside the Detroit blue line with about two minutes gone in OT. Kariya eventually pulled off the wall and reversed direction on his defender, executing a spinorama to peel toward the right circle. The move created some free space for Kariya and he sent a backhand pass across the slot to Forsberg, who stood backdoor near the left post and simply had to redirect Kariya's setup into the gaping net mouth.
Kariya worked more magic earlier to send the game to overtime in the first place. He scored his second goal of the game with 1:04 left in regulation to pull Nashville into a 3-3 tie. David Legwand scored off the rush at 11:04 of the middle frame to pull the Predators even at 2-2, but Tomas Holmstrom scored his third of the night at 14:52 of the third to give Detroit a 3-2 lead going down the stretch.
Earlier Holmstrom scored two power play goals in the first 2:27 of the second period to overcome a 1-0 lead that Nashville carried into the first intermission. With 1:54 remaining in the first period, Kariya scored his first goal in 11 games--set up by Forsberg's first point as a Predator--to give Nashville the lead after an energized opening period of hockey.
Holmstrom first scored on a carryover power play from the first period to tie the game, lifting a loose puck over a prone Tomas Vokoun at the :38 mark. Back-to-back penalties to Vern Fiddler and Dan Hamhuis at :42 and 1:02, respectively, set up 1:40 of a 5-on-3 advantage for the Red Wings. Holmstom got his second tally of the game with 15 seconds left on Fiddler's slashing call, tipping a point shot past Vokoun at 2:27.
In the first, the Predators outshot the Wings 14-10 and generated a number of scoring chances. Jordin Tootoo made the most of his first period ice time, agitating Detroit with his physical play and creating scoring chances by keeping his feet moving in the offensive zone. He had quality scoring bids back-to-back in the first five minutes, being stopped by starting goaltender Chris Osgood on a shot from the right circle then just missing wide with a rebound chance in the slot 30 seconds later.
Midway through the period David Legwand got the puck as close as the right post before it was cleared, then Scott Nichol and Alexander Radulov had back-to-back chances before Osgood finally smothered the puck for a face-off.
Kariya's goal came off the rush, with Forsberg carrying the puck along the left wall and cross the Detroit blue line. Forsberg made a lateral pass to Kariya who was freely entering the zone a few feet to his right. Kariya carried the puck deeper and released a shot from near the left face-off dot, pinpointing it high to the short side past Osgood at 18:06.
Kariya and Martin Erat nearly made it 2-0 seconds later when they rushed up ice on a 2-on-1 break. Erat's shot was turned aside by Osgood.
NOTES: Paul Kariya, who scored twice and added the game-winning assist, had gone 10 games without a goal. He assumed the team lead in scoring Saturday with 62 points (19g-43a). He finished the game with a +4 plus/minus rating... Peter Forsberg posted a goal and an assist for his first points as a Predator... David Legwand registered a goal and an assist for points in three straight games. He was a +2 in the game, increasing his season plus/minus rating to +31... Defenseman Marek Zidlicky contributed two assists for his first point since Jan. 30 (10 games)... Goaltender Tomas Vokoun recorded his 20th win (20-8-2) and became Nashville's second 20-game winner this season... Saturday's win was Nashville's third overtime win of the season. The Predators are now 3-2 in overtim games and 4-2 in shootouts... Detroit outshot Nashville 44-29 in the game. The Predators are now 25-13-2 when outshot... Nashville is 32-8-2 when scoring first... The Predators scored three 5-on-5 goals and has outscored opponents 137-101 while 5-on-5... Nashville outscored Detroit 1-0 in the first period and has now bettered opponents by a combined 76-46 in the opening period this season... The Predators dressed seven defenseman Saturday, as Kimmo Timonen returned to the lineup. Forward Scott Hartnell was late scratch, sidelined with a broken foot that will keep him out of the lineup four to six weeks. Nashville's scratches were Steve Sullivan and Darcy Hordichuk. Nashville also lost Peter Forsberg for a brief period of time in the second period when he went to the locker room for stitches on his leg with about six and a half minutes gone.
NASHVILLE HEAD COACH BARRY TROTZ
On the game
I thought that was a hell of a hockey game I don't care who you are...you had physical play, you had some great passes, good team defense on both ends, great special teams - it was a great hockey game. And it probably was a fitting finish that it be in overtime for one of the teams.
On the game being a playoff-type atmosphere playing Detroit
It was as close as you can get to playoff hockey in a regular-season game. I would expect that type of game from now on I would think, especially against Detroit... you know we're going at it pretty hard.
On allowing 44 shots against
It's not alarming when they got most of them (shots) in the beginning of the second period. You know they threw almost 15 pucks on that power play and you take those away, you know its pretty normal. They (Detroit) throw a lot of pucks at the net on a regular basis, they're the most active in the area of shots.
PREDATORS LEFT WING PAUL KARIYA
On taking Detroit's power play
Well, we realized that we were outplaying them five-on-five, we just needed to stay out of the box. We had trouble doing that all game, but next time we play them, we just can't give them that many opportunities. They have a great power play and you can't give them that many opportunities.
On Forsberg's first goal as a Predator
Peter's been playing great for us. It was nice for him to get a couple tonight. Obviously, the game-winner was huge.
On winning at home before a five-game road trip
It was a huge game. Every game now is like a must-win game. Certainly, when you're playing Detroit, it was a four-point game, so we needed to win.
PREDATORS GOALTENDER TOMAS VOKOUN
On feeling closer to 100-percent
First day today I played without the splint and it's so much better. I mean, you don't realize how much more strength it gives you in your stick. It's so much easier to play the puck. I'm glad that's over.
On the importance of beating Detroit
It's a big emotional game for us, always. We are battling for top spot in our division. They're a good team and it was important. Me and some individuals didn't play well that last few games and it showed. This is like building. You want to build for the playoffs and it's a big win. Going down 3-2 late in the game on their power play and coming back like that, it's a big win. We had one like that, I remember, like four years ago, it turned our season around; it was in the beginning. You never know how big it's going to be, but it's a big win for us.
On the team's attitude
Obviously, having some injuries, (Scott Hartnell and Steve Sullivan), they were coming in and they're a good team, they were ahead of us. You judge, as a player, on how you respond after you don't play well. As an individual or a team, it's important when you don't have a good game to comeback and have a strong effort next time.
PREDATORS CENTER DAVID LEGWAND
On the game he expected from Detroit
Obviously, we're in the last 20 (games) now. We're in playoff hockey; we have to get in playoff mode. That's the way they are going to be down the stretch.
On playing with his old line mates again
Peter went out there for a little bit, we went out there and got a goal and that was a big lift I think, going 2-2 into the third period. Their power play struck again there in the third and we bounced back again.
On the winner of the series winning the Central Division title
I don't know. I don't know who is going to beat who and when they're going to beat them. Everyone's got big games now down the stretch. We have a big road trip and we have to go out and win some games now.
DETROIT FORWARD HENRIK ZETTERBERG
"It was a close game. I think they had the first period. [Osgood] played really good for us. In the second I think we took over with two power-play goals...got us in the game again.
Forsberg's game-winning goal
"I think it was Kariya who threw down on net and hit Peter's stick and in it goes. It's a close game...that's the way it ends."
Slow start and lack of face-off wins
"That's the biggest thing. If you don't have the puck its tough to play good."
DETROIT FORWARD TOMAS HOLMSTROM
Forsberg's game-winning goal
"Tough loss for sure. And second night in a row we ended up on the short stick. Frustrating"
On his hat trick
"Some nights seems like the puck is just coming to you and it was one of those nights"
DETROIT HEAD COACH MIKE BABCOCK
"It was a good hockey game. I thought they were better than us early. I thought we were better than them late. We drifted on the tying goal which I didn't like to see."
"I thought for us, for back-to-back nights, I thought we hung in real good."
"What I liked was that I thought the game was at a high level. I thought they were really physical early and we responded to that. I think we got two real good teams here and it's going to be a lot of fun the next little while."
"You like to compete at a high level. You like to play well...this might have been the best game though."
"It's preparing them for the playoffs and it's preparing us for the playoffs. So those 4 games are important for both of us in our growth and development."
Lack of scoring
"You can't just score with one line, you gotta have everyone. We need Langer's [Robert Lang] to pick things up here for sure."