Despite outshooting the Predators 40-12, the Wings lost tonight at the Joe, 3-2. To have them lose by one goal, after starting the game
behind 1-0, made me even less happy with the league's decision to count Greg Johnson's goal on November 21st for tonight. Not that the Wings didn't have plenty of opportunities to erase that lead and take one of their own.
The good news of the night was that Henrik Zetterberg returned from his hip flexor injury and had a very good game. He did not look anything like a player returning from an injury and was very strong up and down the ice. He hasn't missed a step and that is almost enough to ease the pain of this loss.
The Wings didn't get the fast start I had hoped for and had to face a tight Nashville defense right off the bat. On top of that, they were a bit sloppy with their passes and had trouble really getting anything going.
The Predators expanded on their lead at 3:56 when Danny Markov sent a long pass to Steve Sullivan up the middle following some decent offensive pressure by the Wings. Sullivan beat Andreas Lilja and broke in on Legace all alone and scored without bothering to deke. He just beat Manny five-hole on his team's first shot. 2-0 Predators.
Not long after that, Dan Cleary drew a penalty and the Wings got their first power play of the game. On the 6th, their power play won them the game but it didn't happen on this particular man-advantage. They didn't get much going and the penalty was killed off.
Although the Wings seemed to be trying to be too cute, they continued to get fair chances but were just unable to convert. The Predators got their second shot almost nine minutes into the period but they had the two-goal lead regardless.
As a result of some Nashville pressure, the Wings were forced to take a penalty and go on the PK. They did a good job of killing off the penalty and eventually drew one themselves, causing the teams to go four a side for two seconds before Detroit got a power play. After some initial pressure, they got very little going and the Predators again escaped.
The Wings found themselves facing a 5-on-3 situation with both Chris Chelios and Mathieu Schneider in the box but Kris Draper, Andreas Lilja and Nicklas Lidstrom did a great job of killing off the two-man advantage and the 5-on-4 power play was killed off as well.
Detroit got a 5-on-3 chance of their own toward the end of the period but were unable to convert before time expired.
They began the second period on the carryover from the 5-on-3 and failed to score until it the first Nashville penalty expired. The Wings finally got on the board at :40 as a result of a flurry in the zone. Robert Lang knocked the puck out of the air and sent it off the far post. The rebound came out to Vokoun's left and Pavel Datsyuk pounced on it and put it in the net. The goal was originally credited to Lang but they later changed it to Datsyuk after it was confirmed that Lang's shot had not gone in. 2-1 Predators.
The Wings looked better after that and started to get their act together a little more satisfactorialy.
Kimmo Timonen went to the box at 3:22 and set off a long string of overlapping penalties for either team that finally resulted in a Detroit goal at 5:15. This time it was Mathieu Schneider who scored, taking the return pass from Lidstrom and letting loose a blast from the right point.
The Predators took the lead four minutes later, scoring on the power play at 9:30. This time it was Scott Hartnell, who redirected Kimmo Timonen's shot. Legace would have stopped the initial shot but it changed direction enough that he couldn't do anything about it.
The Wings continued to have chances for the rest of the period but were unable to capitalize and many of their shots were just ineffectual.
The third period was a pretty good one, with the Wings getting plenty of chances and making a strong effort at coming back. Vokoun was up to the challenge, however, and kept the puck out of the net. He came up big down the stretch as the Wings really started coming on and really won the game for his team.
Disappointing loss for the Wings, who are now just one point ahead of the Predators for the Central Division lead. They'll have a chance at redemption tomorrow night, though.
*compiled by Brian