NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Before the Detroit Red Wings could count to 10, the Nashville Predators made their playoff series interesting.
Jason Arnott and Ryan Suter scored nine seconds apart in the final minutes of Game 3 and the Predators cut their first-round deficit to 2-1 against the NHL's top regular-season team. The Red Wings, dominant for most of the series, have suddenly given life to the Predators.
Game 4 is Wednesday night in Nashville.
"They're going to come at us," Nashville goaltender Dan Ellis said Tuesday after the team's morning skate. "If we continue to put a lot of pressure on them and get a lot of shots, we're going to get some bounces. We have scored in bunches so far, but we have to continue our own push and make our own bounces."
Despite the nine-second blunder, Detroit isn't overly concerned heading into Game 4.
Nashville had managed just three goals through the first 2 1/2 games against Dominik Hasek, and had been outshot in 12 consecutive games against the Red Wings dating back to the past two seasons before Monday night.
But what's concerning for Detroit coach Mike Babcock is that the Predators also scored a pair of goals in about two minutes in the second period. And in Game 2, Nashville scored two goals 11 seconds apart.
Allowing quick goals is turning into a troubling trend for the Red Wings.
"They get excited and they play a little better, and we seem to be on our heels," Babcock said after Game 3. "I thought we were in good situations two times. Obviously we're up 2-0 and not a whole bunch going on and we give that up. We get back into a good situation, but I thought we got on our heels again and they took it to us."
Such stretches have highlighted lapses by Hasek, who allowed Arnott and Suter to score on a pair of slap shots he usually turns away. Hasek has seemed to lose focus at times, looking more like the 43-year-old goaltender he is.
"It's a good question, what happened," Hasek said. "Two slap shots and two goals. We were up one goal the whole period, but within 20 seconds they score two goals on two slap shots. The second I saw very well. And the first one, I don't know what to say.
"It's definitely very disappointing because we were pretty close and they didn't have too many chances, and all of a sudden within 20 seconds, two good slap shots. Maybe shots I could make a save, who knows?"
The Predators feel they've learned how to get past the veteran Hasek, having faced the Red Wings nine times this season.
"People used to get too fine against him because of his name ... It's like meeting someone famous here in Nashville. The first time I'm probably a little intimidated. But then it becomes like commonplace," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said.
The Predators have more reasons to be confident.
Their two stars - Arnott and centre David Legwand - have suddenly emerged, each scoring goals in Game 3.
Arnott had been dormant for most of the series before scoring the game-winner. And Legwand returned to the lineup after missing 14 straight games with a deep bone bruise on his left foot, one-timing a pass from J.P. Dumont on a 2-on-1 break in the second period to make it a 2-2 game.
"The first two games there was a lot of talk about our leadership and our top scorers not scoring," Arnott said. "But that's when you need everyone else to chip in and that's what we got. Our top guys really showed up."
The Red Wings will look to take back their tight grip on the series, knowing they already failed at a chance to deliver a demoralizing blow.
"The difference between a win and a loss, well, it's huge," Babcock said. "At 3-0 it's not over, but it's tough. At 2-1 you have a series. It's on."