Zetterberg's Pair of Goals Lift Wings Over Preds

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- The Detroit Red Wings called it a fortunate play. The Nashville Predators claimed it was questionable call.

The end result was a tiebreaking goal by Henrik Zetterberg at 6:54 of the third period that helped Detroit to a 3-1 victory over Nashville on Thursday night in Game 1 of their first-round series.

Officials ruled Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk prevented Shea Weber from clearing the puck, setting up the goal that made it 2-1.

The Predators said the play should've been negated by an offsides call.

Datsyuk made a cross-ice pass from the left circle to perfectly set up Zetterberg's one-timer that hit the back of the net before Dan Ellis could slide over or get his glove on it.

"We cleared the puck and it look like it hit the linesman and came back in," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "I looked at it again on replay and from my judgment, it looked fairly clear.

"Usually in that situation, the linesmen or the referee blow that to not give an unfair advantage."

Zetterberg said the puck stayed in the Nashville zone, but did acknowledge getting a break.

"I think it was a lucky bounce," said Zetterberg, who added an empty-net goal with 19 seconds left. "I think it hit the ref and went straight to my stick.

"That's the kind of bounces you need in the playoffs. We had them with us tonight."

The Red Wings certainly did on their first goal, too, when Johan Franzen scored in the first period on a loose puck that went off Radek Bonk's stick soon after the Predator got out of the penalty box.

A couple minutes before Zetterberg's go-ahead goal, Nashville's Vernon Fiddler hit a post on a shot.

Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Saturday in Detroit.

Dominik Hasek, playing in his 116th playoff game, needed to make just 19 saves for the top-seeded Wings and Ellis stopped 37 shots in his playoff debut.

"Danny gave us a chance to win -- plain and simple," Trotz said. "We're going to have to put more pressure on Hasek."

Ellis had 26 saves entering the final period with the score tied 1-all.

Franzen scored at 5:58 of the first period and Nashville's Jordin Tootoo had a goal late in the second on a deflected shot.

The Red Wings shut down some of the Predators' best players, keeping both Jason Arnott and Alexander Radulov shotless.

"If you're going to be successful in the playoffs, your top players have to be your top players," Trotz said.

The Red Wings, who led the NHL in points for the third time in four seasons, desperately wanted to get off to a good start in the series after losing as a top-seeded team just two years ago.

"The first one is the toughest to get, especially when you're at home and you've got more jitters than you'd think," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.

Detroit has won the Presidents' Trophy six times since 1995 -- three times more than any other franchise -- but has followed up that hardware with a Stanley Cup only once.

"They've won that many games for a reason because they're such a well-tuned machine and they just keeping at you," Ellis said.

Nashville, meanwhile, accomplished something by just getting into the playoffs after the roster was gutted following uncertainty about the franchise's future. The Predators went 5-0-1 to secure the last spot in the Western Conference playoffs.

"We do have resiliency and character. We're going grind this thing out," Ellis said. "Whatever we have in this room is good enough to win against any team. We've beaten Detroit before and there's no reason we can't do it again."

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