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Klein thwarts Emmerton's big chance

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Cory Emmerton had his game-tying scoring chance thwarted here when Predators' Kevin Klein blocked his shot that was headed for a wide-open net late in the third period. (Photo by Dave Reginek)
DETROIT – In hindsight, it was a huge opportunity wasted Sunday afternoon, one that could have been a turning point for the Red Wings late in Game 3 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series against Nashville.

Though they trailed 2-1 at the time, everything was working in the Wings’ favor. They were getting plenty of scoring chances against Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, and they were wearing down the Predators’ defense, outshooting the visitors, 19-4, in the third period alone.

The atmosphere was ripe for the team with the league’s best home record during the regular-season to take control of the game and of this series.

Then there was the rush.

Drew Miller took a breakout pass in the neutral zone, and gliding over the blue line he snapped a shot from 29-feet as he raced up right wing. Rinne made the initial save, but kicked a rebound into the slot. And that’s where Wings rookie Cory Emmerton found himself with the biggest scoring chance that he’s had in the last 48 hours.

“We had a good breakout there, I tried to beat my guy up the ice and Millsie did a good job,” said Emmerton, who scored his first career postseason goal in Friday’s Game 2 win. “It was a tight spot to make a pass, so he passed up the pass and the puck went off the pads and I just tried to wire it.”

With Rinne out of position, the entire left side of the net was wide open for Emmerton, who appeared to get plenty of stick on the puck. However, so did Predators defenseman Kevin Klein.

“I just hoped somehow that I could get a stick on it,” Klein said. “I saw (Emmerton) coming in and I just tried to get something on it.”

The bang-bang play prevented the Wings from tying the score with 5:41 left in regulation. A little over two-minutes later the Predators increased their lead to 3-1 when Sergei Kostitysn scored.

“The D-man just kind of did like a spin or something with his stick and I don’t know how, but I hit him right in the middle of the shaft,” said Emmerton as he sat dejected in the Wings’ locker room after the game. “It’s unbelievable.”

The Wings nearly double the Preds’ shot total, firing a series-high 43 shots at Rinne. But Detroit’s forwards must continue to be resilient if they expect to beat the league’s leader in wins this season.

“I think just staying on him, getting the second chances,” Miller said. “Just try to shoot and if I beat him, I beat him. If not, there's a rebound and Emmerton, the rebound went off the D-man's stick. Tough bounce but we just gotta stay on him, get those second and third chances.”

Playing from behind has also become a concern for the Wings. Sunday’s 3-2 loss is the second time in this series that Detroit has had to battle from behind. Over the last month, the Wings trailed in 16 of the last 20 games, including this playoff series.

“Today was one of those games where the crowd was so into it and you get down by two goals, it's tough,” Emmerton said. “We battled hard and it's just one of those things in the playoffs, you can't give up those two-goal leads. It's hard to come back from them, especially with these two teams playing so tight, defensively. We'll look for a better start on Tuesday.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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