Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Preds win Game 1 despite Gill's absence

The Nashville Predators defeated the Detroit Red Wings by a 3-2 score on Wednesday night to take a 1-0 lead in their Western Conference Quarter Finals series. Pekka Rinne made 35 saves to propel the Predators to a lead in a series over Detroit for the first time in franchise history.

Paul Gaustad got the scoring started for the Predators at 6:59 of the first period. He took the puck behind the Detroit net and made a spinning turnaround shot on Jimmy Howard's stick side that bounced off of Brad Stuart and into the Detroit net. It was Gaustad's first goal in a Predator uniform and his first career postseason goal.

"That's huge. The people who scored tonight were third and fourth line people. That's what we need in the playoffs. That's what I like here. It's never the same guy. It's never only the first or second line players who score. Everybody chips in and that's what we need right now," said Predators defenseman Francis Bouillon.

In the second period, the Red Wings were able to tie the game at one when Henrik Zetterberg pounded one past Rinne from the crease on the power play. There were a combined 17 penalties in this game between both teams. Detroit Head Coach Mike Babcock seemed a little flabbergasted with the unusually high number of penalties when asked about it after the game.

"Who are the least penalized teams in the NHL? What's next," Babcock said.

Nashville took a 2-1 lead at 12:29 of the second period on an odd redirection by Gabriel Bourque. Matt Halischuk fired the puck toward Howard, and Bourque was able to redirect it past Howard from an odd angle. The goal was originally credited to Halischuk but replay later showed that it did hit Bourque's stick.

The Predators took a 2-1 lead into the third period, and were able to add to it at 11:35 of the period when Bourque scored his second goal of the game. Rinne had just made some key saves for the Predators at the other end of the ice, and Bourque was able to score from the slot after a great effort by Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling to feed him the puck. Detroit brought the game within one with 2:07 remaining in regulation, but the Predators were able to hold on for the win.

Hal Gill, who was acquired by Nashville at the trading deadline for his veteran presence and experience in the postseason, missed Wednesday night's game with an injury. Jack Hillen was called upon due to Gill's absence, and the Predators were able to get a win without one of their key defenders. Nashville, who was shorthanded eight times on the night, could have used Gill's presence on the penalty kill.

"Especially tonight. He's a PK specialist. That's what I said to him after the game, 'We really needed you tonight.' The PK did great tonight, and they saved the game I guess," Bouillon said.

Darren Helm left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury and did not return for the Red Wings. His status going for the remainder of the series is uncertain. Helm seemed to have a pretty severe injury when he left the ice and actually had to go to the hospital.

"He's at the hospital in surgery. He has his forearm cut but we don't know; that's why he's at the hospital. We don't know to what extent or how severe, if any tendons or anything were cut we don't know but it was pretty severe. As soon as it happened he skated straight to the bench and we were on the penalty kill and he'd never do that and they took him from the game right away," Babcock said.

Nashville captain Shea Weber was involved in an incident with Zetterberg as the final seconds were ticking down in the game. Weber slammed Zetterberg's head into the boards and was given a two-minute roughing penalty as time expired. The NHL will likely look at the play and deterimine whether or not supplemental discipline is necessary.

With a win in Game 1, the Predators will look to take a 2-0 series lead on Friday night at Bridgestone Arena. If the Predators are able to get a win, they will have held up their end of the bargain as far as home ice advantage is concerned. However, home ice will shift in favor of Detroit if the Red Wings are able to get a win on Friday night.

"It's a battle. It's a war. Every game we've got to be ready, and it's going to be even harder next game. That's the playoffs and that's the way it's going to be against any team, not just against Detroit," Bouillon said.

Hockey Night in Nashville's 3 Stars of the game:
1. Gabriel Bourque(NSH)
2. Pekka Rinne(NSH)
3. Paul Gaustad(NSH)

Official 3 Stars:
1. Gabriel Bourque(NSH)
2. Pekka Rinne(NSH)
3. Paul Gaustad(NSH)

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