By Michael Caples –
DETROIT – The Red Wings dominated play in the third period of their Game 3 match-up with the Nashville Predators.
There was only one problem – they couldn’t crack Pekka Rinne.
The Predators goaltender stopped 41 shots – 18 in the third period alone – to lead Nashville to a 3-2 win and another lead in the series.
“I think we had a lot of chances and we were there for second chances too,” Henrik Zetterberg said after the game. “There was a few times where we thought we had a goal, but we didn’t, and that’s how it is sometimes. We just gotta regroup and go back and win Game 4.”
After the Red Wings thought they had tied it up in the final moments of the second period – Johan Franzen scored just after time expired – they controlled play for the majority of the third. The Wings out-shot the Predators 19-4 in the final frame, and didn’t allow a single shot on the Detroit goal for roughly the first 12 minutes.
Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg scored in the loss for the Wings. Goaltender Jimmy Howard made 19 saves in his second loss of the 2012 postseason.
Shea Weber, Kevin Klein, and Sergei Kostitsyn recorded Nashville’s goals.
Weber’s goal, recorded at the 2:48 mark of the first period, was the Predators’ first power-play goal of the series. Aside from breaking their scoreless streak on the man-advantage, it helped the Predators gain the early momentum and silence the Joe Louis Arena crowd.
“This team’s way too good to be playing from behind,” Kyle Quincey said. “They have great goaltending, whole team defense, so I think for the next game the biggest thing is to try to get the first goal, we had the first goal in Game 2, and we were OK there, so I think that’s a huge key for us.”
Datsyuk gave the Wings new life in the second period with a great individual effort. With Detroit down 2-0, Datsyuk stole the puck from Roman Josi behind the Predators’ goal, and surprised Rinne with a wraparound goal.
The Wings would control play for the duration of the contest after Datsyuk’s goal, but Sergei Kostitsyn’s goal on an odd-man rush at the 16:30 mark of the third period increased the Nashville lead to two once again.
Zetterberg scored with a wrister to the top shelf with 52 seconds remaining in regulation to make the score 3-2, but the Wings’ final surge wasn’t enough to change the outcome.
“I thought the first ten minutes we didn’t win any face-offs, kind of got on our heels a little bit in the game,” coach Mike Babcock said. “It was a tough break when Pav broke his stick on the penalty kill, giving up a goal there. You know, the third goal, to be honest, is we got impatient. The guys stayed on the ice a little bit too long and we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit there. But we did lots of good things, their goaltender was good. We just have to come back and get after them at the start of the game to the end of the game, like we did tonight in the latter half.”