Big efforts on offense and a great night in net gave Detroit a huge win on the road. The Red Wings held off the Predators in the third period beating them 3-2 at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night. Petr Mrazek’s amazing goaltending and Detroit’s fight off the faceoff held them for a much needed victory.
This was the first time this season that the Red Wings would have to play without Dylan Larkin in the lineup. The first line rookie forward suffered a lower body injury that has him out day to day. He became the seventh Detroit player to enter the injured reserve list that keeps getting bigger as the season goes by.
With the Christmas holiday passed, Detroit would try to be strong in Nashville taking on the Predators with a watchful eye on captain Shea Weber. Weber recorded a hat trick with most of his goals being scored immediately off the faceoff. Detroit would require a successful winning front on the dot to prevent more incidents similar to that from occurring.
In the first six minutes of the game, the Red Wings were jumping ahead on the puck fast to counter act any moves that Nashville brought forward early on. On a faceoff in the Predators zone, Detroit had the whole line participating in the set up that had defenseman Brendan Smith scoring his second of the season. Just when it looked as if they had the upper hand, the Predators responded with an act of their own. A 3 on 2 rush had Filip Forsberg delivering a strong wrist shot that rang off the post behind Mrazek scoring his eighth on the year.
When it looked as if Nashville would run away with the game, the Red Wings hung on to them killing off their opening power play with stellar defense. The Predators shot themselves in the foot into their second getting called on interference. Though Detroit had a short opportunity on a man advantage, it wasn’t enough to change the pace of the period as the Predators had a solid showing on skating and offense.
As the second period got underway, the Predators allowed the Red Wings their first chance on the power play that they didn’t waste. With just 21 seconds left on the Nashville penalty, Riley Sheahan managed to get a wrist shot in front of goaltender Pekka Rinne to give Detroit a 2-1 lead. It was just fifth of the season and second straight game that he scored in.
The Red Wings maintained some control on the score and puck possession until a bad call against Luke Glendening gave Nashville a chance to even up. On came Weber as part of the power play unit setting himself in position to fire shots to the net with Mrazek as the target. Through the two minute penalty, he had Detroit on edge every time he took a drive from the short end. Three rifled shots went wide helping the Red Wings to get a third penalty kill and resume even strength play.
Fighting to hold off the Predators was becoming tough as the minutes were closing in on the sounding of the second period. On a faceoff to the left of Mrazek, Nashville won the puck and set up 26 year old forward Craig Smith with a harmless shot into the net that gave him his eight goal making it a 2-2 score.
The third period was dicey going in for both teams that wanted a win from the former rivalry that was once heated in the Western Conference. After the first few minutes of play, the Predators put Detroit on the man advantage, which had them, eager to notch another goal to open the gap. Though they didn’t make it happen during the penalty, it would be a drive from Smith that tipped off the stick of Luke Glendening that made it 3-2 in the Red Wings favor. There was still a chunk of time left on the clock for the Predators to ruin Detroit’s night but they were playing tight defense around Mrazek.
When two minutes were left on the clock, Nashville made their move twenty seconds later to pull Rinne from net. It gave them six attackers that included Weber to get the game tying goal in or face a loss. 69 seconds were left with coach Peter Laviolette took his only timeout to set up a possible play for his line.
Some close scoring chances that included a high bouncing puck that flew behind Mrazek yet never finding their mark. The pressure was dealt from the Detroit defense as the horn sounded the end of the game and their victory against the Predators.
A sixty minute stance in net gave Mrazek a well deserved 11th win stopping 22 of 24 for a .923 save percentage. “We did a great job in front of the net, Mrazek told reporters. “The guys blocked some shots there and while they shot from everywhere I was trying to be big in net.”
After having a long break off from hockey, getting back into the right way to succeed on ice had Detroit happy to do so. “We wanted to come and have a good game after we lost to New Jersey so to come out here and play a solid game and get some goal scoring, have Mrazek save us was a good start for the new part of the season,” Smith said to Fox Sports Detroit reporter Trevor Thompson.
“All in all the guys played well and when you have everybody pulling my chain I think you end up playing a solid game and having more chances.” Detroit took 23 shots to the net with 13 having come in the second period alone. With that and the special teams killing off penalties, Detroit was in the right form coach Jeff Blashill wanted to see. “We did enough good things to win the hockey game. I thought we were proactive, and it was pretty good hockey game and we played good,” he said.
He will hope to see more from his squad when they go into Minnesota for a lone visit against the Wild on Monday night.