Pavel Datsyuk is a robot. Great goal, though.
So I published Game Four on the weekend, but forgot all about Game Three. This was the first game in Detroit, and the series was tied 1-1. The Predators went on to win this one 3-2, but were outshot 43-22. Did the Wings double up on the scoring chances too? We'll take a look after the jump.
|Period||DET / NSH||EV||DET PP||5v3 PP||NSH PP||5v3 SH|
The Red Wings come out ahead in this one with the entire difference coming with the teams playing at even strength. Of course, they also built that edge playing from behind in the third period. As such, I think it's fair to say that this was a pretty even game.
The first half of the first period was particularly exciting with fourteen chances (eight for Nashville and six for Detroit) in the game's first ten minutes. Some of that is because of defensive breakdowns, but it's a lot more fun to watch that than it is to watch one team shutting down the middle of the ice, as Nashville did so effectively in the third (that's not a knock on the Predators; every team tries to do that).
Now that the Red Wings are toast, I know that I'm going to miss watching Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Both players scored in this game, and both goals were a lot of fun. Datsyuk scored his after a delightful steal behind the net that happened so fast that Pekka Rinne couldn't react in time when Datsyuk wrapped the puck in. I felt a little bad for poor Roman Josi. The way the play developed combined with Rinne's obliviousness, and Josi slapping his stick on the ice after the goal made the whole sequence feel like a video game.
Zetterberg's goal wasn't quite as uniquely Zetterbergian as Datsyuk's was Datsyukian, but it was still a lot of fun. Zetterberg was on the edge of the scoring chance area, but managed to fool Rinne partially because he snapped a shot top corner without even looking at the net. I'm sure that guys try this all the time, but NBC showed a great angle of Zetterberg taking that shot off the rush with eyes planted squarely toward the slot as though he was going to pass the entire time. Pretty cool.
So why did the Predators win? Rinne aside, I really liked the play of David Legwand and Mike Fisher. They don't have the sublime talent of Detroit's top guys, but they're physical players who skate well and are very effective along the walls. They're also classic "playoff hockey" types, which basically means that they know how to bend the rules in their favor without taking a disproportionate number of penalties. It's a useful skill.