Photo courtesy of Detroit Red Wings
Jason Arnott redirects Kimmo Timonen's shot into the net for Nashville's second goal, 10:12 into the second period.
The Nashville Predators suffered a 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena. The Predators held 1-0 and 2-1 leads during the contest but Jiri Hudler scored twice and Kirk Maltby added an empty net goal to ice the comeback win for Detroit.
Nashville's record falls to 46-20-6 as the Red Wings leapfrog the Predators to take the NHL lead by one point in the league standings. Detroit handed Nashville its second straight loss after downing the Predators 5-2 in Nashville on Tuesday in the first of a home-and-home, back-to-back pair of games. The two teams meet one more time this season--March 29 in Nashville.
For the second night in a row, rookie winger Alexander Radulov scored Nashville's first goal. The Predators, who came out with good jump in the opening period and drew two power plays in the first six minutes of play, had a number of early scoring chances but didn't get on the board until Radulov's goal at 18:06 of the first. Radulov started the play in the neutral zone, intercepting a pass from Detroit's Andreas Lilja and storming down the middle of the ice between two defenders. After pulling the puck across his body, Radulov released a quick wrister from the inside edge of the left circle that beat goaltender Dominik Hasek to the far side and rang in off the right post.
In Tuesday's game, Detroit struck early in periods--scoring in the first 1:40 of a period on two occasions--and they repeated the feat again in the second period Wednesday. Three seconds after Nashville's Vern Fiddler and Detroit's Kirk Maltby were sent off for roughing, defenseman Niklas Lidstrom drove a slapshot past goaltender Chris Mason. The goal came right off the face-off, tying the game 1-1 at the 1:16 mark.
Less than a minute later, Paul Kariya nearly put Nashville ahead with a long rush up ice that forced Mathieu Schneider to take a tripping penalty. Kariya was knocked off his skates on the play and slid hard into the left post. He was slow to stand but returned to the game shortly thereafter. That injury scare was followed by another with just under seven minutes gone in the period. J.P. Dumont and Red Wings forward Tomas Holmstrom failed to see each other and collided in open ice. Both players lay on the ice in pain for a brief period of time before returning to their respective benches. Both returned to the game quickly though.
Jason Arnott restored Nashville's one-goal lead midway through the second when he redirected Kimmo Timonen's shot past Hasek for his 25th tally of the season. Arnott started the play by curling from right to left behind the Detroit net and starting a cycle in the left corner with Radulov and Dumont. Dumont ultimately carried the puck behind the net again and sent it out to Timonen on the left side for a quick shot toward the front of the goal. Arnott was storming the net and was in position to deflect the shot to the left of Hasek at 10:12.
Unfortunately that would be the extent of the Predators' offensive output in the game, as the Red Wings responded with three goals over the game's final 24 minutes. Hudler scored the first two, putting a long rebound through the legs of Mason at 16:23 of the second and tucking a sharp-angle shot under the cross bar to the near side at 5:41 of the third. Hudler nearly collected his hat trick goal at 11:30, hitting the post on a give-and-go play with teammate Kyle Calder.
The Predators generated a fifth power play 13:43 into the third but, as was the case with the first four opportunities with a manpower advantage, were unable to capitalize. Head coach Barry Trotz called Mason to the bench for an extra attacker with 48 seconds remaining in regulation. Nashville attempted to mount a final push to tie the game but an offensive zone turnover was quickly headmanned to Maltby and fired into the empty net from the red line with 36.9 left on the clock.
NOTES: Captain Kimmo Timonen established a new career high in assists (40) Wednesday and tied his career high in points (50). He is four points shy of his 300th NHL point. Timonen has 12 points (1g-11a) over the past 10 games... Alexander Radulov scored goals in back-to-back games for the first time since he did so on Dec. 12 and 14. He now has 3 goals, 3 assists, and two shootout goals in his last nine games... Jason Arnott has 4 goals and a total of 5 points over the last five games. He is Nashville's leading goal-scorer with 25... J.P. Dumont recorded an assist and now has 7 points (2g-5a) in his last seven games and 14 points (6g-8a) in his last 13 contests... Goaltender Chris Mason has not allowed more than three goals in a game since allowing four goal on Jan. 1 vs. Colorado (12 games)... Scratches for Nashville were Martin Erat, Scott Nichol, Steve Sullivan and Peter Forsberg.