Friday, April 16, 2004

New Dogs, New Tricks. Old Dogs, Old Tricks

The Red Wings have had enough, thank you very much! That seems to be the tone of Thursday nights thrashing of the Nashville Predators at the Joe. Detroit came out flying in game five, taking the play to the Predators right off the bat, not giving them a chance to get comfortable in the play and matching their speed for the first time in the series.

Detroit’s younger legs kept the play in the Nashville end of the rink for the early part of the first, and the Wings took advantage of that by scoring two quick goals setting the tone of the game. Pavel Datsuyk set up two beautiful goals in the first seven minutes, as Henrik Zetterberg and Brett Hull capitalized on laser passes to put the puck past the previously hard to beat Tomas Vokoun. Brendan Shanahan added on more before the first period ended, giving the Wings a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.

Nicklas Lidstrom picked up the pace again in the second, putting the Wings ahead by 4 goals midway through the game. Nashville got a goal back with 37 seconds to go in the second as Sergei Zholtok scored on the power play, but that would be it for the Predators on this night. The teams played scoreless hockey in the third, as Tomas Vokoun bore down and closed the door but far too late for this game.

Curtis Joseph started in his first playoff game of the series, facing 19 shots as he worked his way back into game shape following his ankle injury prior to the playoff start.

Vokoun had 27 shots to deal with as Detroit played the game as if it were a perpetual overtime game. For Vokoun the blitz of goals was quite a change of pace from what he was used to in the previous two games. Heading into game five he had stopped 83 of 84 shots made by Red Wing shooters and had gone 78 minutes before the Wings finally found the mark.

For the Predators it’s time to regroup and get back to the style of play that they utilized back in Nashville, the hometown fans get one more night to cheer on their heroes as the Wings and Preds meet for game six on Saturday afternoon. If the Red Wings have their way there will not be any need for Nashville to keep their hotel rooms open for next Monday night.

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