Monday, April 12, 2004

Cats claw their way back into the series

The one day turnaround didn’t cause Nashville any problems as those young legs of the Predators, churned their way through three period of hockey on the way to a 3-1 victory over a very old looking Detroit Red Wings squad. Old at least in the first two periods, perhaps they needed a bit more rest before taking to the ice. For whatever reason the Predators had a pretty good run for the first two periods, scoring two of their three goals before the first period ended.

David Legwand scored a short handed goal at th18 minute mark of the first, Adam Hall getting the Preds a second one just before the siren ended. That goal would send the Nashville fans into hockey heaven for the first intermission. The second period had no scoring, but lots of chances and some fast paced action from both teams, but it was the Predators work ethic that seemed to win the period, holding the Wings to only six shots in the second.

The Wings once again didn’t get things fired up until the third period, a trend that has been a constant in this series for the first three games. The first two periods of Red Wing hockey spent mostly chasing after the surprisingly fast Predator squad. Nashville’s first ever exposure to playoff hockey ending in fine style, as the hometown team managed to hold off a sustained Red Wing attack in the last ten minutes for the win. Detroit’s Manny Legace faced 21 shots in the Red wing net, but even he had to sit back and watch in awe the performance put on from the other end of the rink.

Once again it was Tomas Vokoun who made the most difference, 41 shots fired his way, 22 of them in that frantic third period and at the end of the game he stood at the end of the rink saluting the fans. The Red Wings leaving the ice talking to themselves about incredible saves and missed opportunities. To a player they gave full credit to Vokoun for standing on his head and shutting them down.

Brett Hull collected his 101st playoff goal in the game with a nice goal in the third, moving him into third overall. But it would be the many chances he had, only to be turned away by Vokoun that everyone would remember most on Sunday.

The Predators pull to within one game of the all star studded Red Wing squad, with game number four coming up on Tuesday night at the Gaylord Entertainment Centre. After the game the Predators threw a party outside the rink to celebrate the first ever playoff victory for the team. While it seems hard to believe that the Red Wings won’t finally put this pesky team to rest, don’t be surprised if the folks in Nashville get to dance one more time before last call.

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