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Up to his tricks, Pavel can't save the day

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Pavel Datsyuk jams the puck past Predators goalie Pekka Rinne in Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series Sunday afternoon. (Photo by Gregory Shamus)
DETROIT – The Predators have seen it before, but this one hurt substantially more.

Known as perhaps the best in the business at stealing the puck from opposing skaters, Pavel Datsyuk victimized another of Nashville’s young defensemen Sunday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.

While Datsyuk’s play tipped the momentum in the favor of the Wings, they were able to overcome a two-goal lead that the Predators built to start the second period.

“He’s the best by far at that,” Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey said. “I feel back for (Roman Josi), but it’s happened to everybody. He’s so good at it, and it’s so hard, he’s such a skilled player that when you have the puck you’re scared of him. He’s a great player.”

Trailing 2-0 with a face-off set to the right of Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, Preds center Mike Fisher beat Datsyuk in the circle. As Josi took the puck behind the Predators’ net, the stealthy Wings’ center moved in from behind, lifted the rookie’s stick, took the puck and jammed it past Rinne’s left pad.

“I knew he was coming from behind. It happened so fast,” Josi said. “He lifted my stick and got it. I have to get rid of it, he always does that and you have to know that.”

It’s not the first time that Datsyuk has stripped a Preds’ player like that. Three years ago, the NHL leader in takeaways stole the puck from defenseman Kevin Klein in front of the net, made a couple of moves and put a backhander under the crossbar.

Moments later, during a 4-on-4, Datsyuk missed an opportunity on an open net when he picked up a rebound from Nicklas Lidstrom, but the puck rolled off the toe of his stick blade and went wide of the left post.

Datsyuk’s goal fired-up the Wings and electrified the sold-out Joe Louis Arena crowd.

“For sure, that was ‘game-on’ after that,” said Quincey, referring to the goal that made it 2-1. “We had three or four chances on the 4-on-4 right after that too, so it could easily have been 2-2 going into the third.”

The Wings missed out on a golden chance at the end of the second period when Johan Franzen’s shot from the slot crossed the goal line about one-tenth of a second too late. The referees used video replay to double-check the validity of the goal, and when ref Tim Peel announced “no goal” to the non-partisan crowd, it came as no surprise to the Wings.

“We knew before we left the bench,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said, “our video guy said it wasn’t in.”

However, the momentum stayed on the Wings’ side throughout the third period as the home team peppered Rinne with shot after shot. But the 6-foot-5 Finnish goaltender made several huge saves.

“They came out and played really tight, especially when they get the lead,” said Henrik Zetterberg, who scored his second goal of the series with 54-seconds left in regulation. “I think second half we had a lot of chances, we played a lot in their end. Unfortunately they got an odd-man rush and scored the third one before we could tie. But we were closing in, we had a few pucks with a few seconds left that could have gone in.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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