On display this afternoon was a third period that was wholly dictated by Detroit. It was one of the most dominating periods of hockey this team has played all year, and yet one of the four shots that Jimmy Howard faced that period ended up behind him, once again shifting the balance of power to the charmed Predators.
I'm going to pull a George here and quote the man himself from his postgame article on The Malik Report:
Yes, the Wings rallied against themselves and the Predators, but this loss is immensely dispiriting because, well…The Wings are making Pekka Rinne into Dwayne Roloson, and for whatever reason, the Predators seem to have all the “puck luck” at both ends of the ice thanks to a forecheck that’s generating turnovers in Detroit’s zone, body position in their own end and a litany of blocked empty-net shots—Detroit had not only 43 shots on Rinne (who wasn’t forced back into his net nearly enough after Drew Miller ran him over) today, but they also fired 15 wide and 19 into Nashville Predators players for a total of 34 extra pucks not hitting Rinne or the back of the net, and 77 total attempted shots, perhaps most eloquently illustrating how incredibly inefficiently the Red Wings have played throughout this series.I don't feel the need to write anything more. Everything else I've thought about discussing is already covered in George's article, so I highly recommend heading over there and checking it out.
Really, how many times can a team have not only their own play, but seemingly the referees and most damingly "puck luck" on their side? One of those three has to change for Detroit to pull this series out.
Let's take a closer look at what transpired (with pictures, naturally).
Detroit 0 Nashville 1; 2:48- PPG Weber from Kostitsyn & Radulov
Legwand has the puck along the boards and passes to Radulov in the middle of the faceoff circle. Defensively, Kronwall has gone to the corner and Cleary had come down as both are trying to cut off Legwand's passing lanes. This leaves Stuart the lone defender down low to pick up Radulov in front of the net. Datsyuk is near the hash marks but without a stick, and therefore without much of a chance to have an impact of any Predators who try to set up on the back door.
Radulov dishes to Kostitsyn directly in front of Howard, who is undefended because Stuart was forced to step up on him. Datsyuk has slid down to try and do what he can, but he ends up only being able to shove Kostitsyn. The shot from Kostitsyn hits Howard, and the rebound trickles out to his right. Meanwhile, Kostitsyn decides that Datsyuk's shove means it open season on pushing in front of the net, and he throws Stuart into Howard. No one has picked up Weber on the back door, and he's able to convert the rebound opportunity past a down and out Howard.
Detroit 0 Nashville 2; 3:50- Klein from Erat
The Wings miss the net in the offensive zone and Nashville picks the puck up along the boards. They start a quick two man breakout through the neutral zone with Erat controlling the puck and Klein trailing. Near center ice Klein starts to surpass Erat, who passes to his right. This shouldn't be a difficult zone entry for the Wings to handle, as they have numbers. All Stuart needs to do is turn at the right time to stay with Klein.
Stuart doesn't turn at the right time and ends up lightly hooking Klein as he blows past him.
Klein is in all alone and lifts the puck over Howard's glove to take the lead. Hard to criticize Jimmy when he got hung out to dry, but this doesn't seem like a shot that he had no chance on.
Detroit 1 Nashville 2; 15:03- Datsyuk (1) unassisted
Nashville wins the draw in their own end and goes d-to-d behind the net. Seems pretty harmless at the time, right? Wrong. There's one player in the league that can make the play he's about to make, and he wears 13 for the Winged Wheelers.
Datsyuk lifts Josi's stick and swiftly swipes the puck away. Meanwhile, Rinne has decided to wait for the puck to come around the boards and is staring down Dan Cleary.
Pasha neatly tucks the puck around the post, and Rinne has one of the biggest "Oh Sh*t!" moments of all time as he realizes he just fell asleep on one of the top three players in the world behind his own net.
Detroit 1 Nashville 3; 16:30- Kostitsyn from Fisher & Klein
In the midst of Detrot's offensive blitz, Kronwall carries the puck in and blasts a shot from just inside the blue line. Rinne stops it, and Kronall chases his own rebound to the faceoff circle.
Nashville wins the race to the loose puck and starts a break out the other way. Three Detroit players are now stuck behind the rush, leaving Nashville with a great chance at an odd-man opportunity as the pass finds Kostitsyn at center.
Filppula goes for the poke check here and misses, which spells doomsday for Detroit. Kostitsyn flies past him and now has 2-on-1 situation unfolding in front of him.
Kostitsyn delays, judging in a split second whether he has room to pass or will have to shoot. It looks like Stuart gets in the passing lane just enough to make Kostitsyn choose the later. He drags and snaps a shot over Howard's shoulder.
Detroit 2 Nashville 3; 19:06- Zetterberg (2) from Datsyuk (2) & Kronwall (1)
Detroit mounted a flurry of offensive activity in the third period, and nothing came from it until there was less than a minute left in the game. Kronwall dishes to Zetterberg along the boards, who carries towards the net.
Nashville collapses on net and takes away any option Zetterberg has to pass. This doesn't stop him from looking into the middle of the ice the whole time he skates towards the net, perfectly selling the pass that isn't coming. Z quickly shoots and surprises Rinne, beating him blocker side and putting the game momentarily within reach.