Before writing the story here, I have to preface this with something. I hate the Detroit Red Wings with an unrivaled passion. The only other team I despise this much is probably the Pittsburgh Steelers. They embody everything I hate in hockey (for mostly irrational reasons, but that's beside the point). I would love nothing more than to watch my beloved Predators snap their historic winning streak at home. There is nothing more "win-win" than a situation in which my Preds can beat the team I hate the most and make me twice as happy.
But the downside to this? When Nasvhille gets beat by Detroit, it sucks. And when they get beat by a goal with less than 10 seconds left in the third period? It's a stomach punch. That's all there is to it.
The only reason I can even manage to write the rest of this recap is that I have the notes I took while I watched the game. I'll transcribe them into a journalistic format of a game recap, but just know that I am dying inside right now. I want to go throw up. This might be the harded regular season loss I've ever had to take for any of my favorite teams. The combination of how well our team was playing, despite making some critical mistakes, and how the Predators were hanging right there with the Red Wings, who have one hell of a team. It's not the loss that hurts, it's how close it felt like we were to winning (or, at worst, one more point in the standings).
So anyways, here's the story (click read more):
Pavel Datsyuk broke the hearts of Predators fans with 5.8 seconds left in the game by hitting a game-winning goal in a game that had a playoff atmosphere throughout.
Coming into Friday night, the Detroit Red Wings had won 21 consecutive games at home. Simply put, winning in Detroit is no simple task. The Predators looked to be heading into overtime at the least, for sure, when Datsyuk stomped those hopes out. Looking back on this game weeks from now, that one point that the Predators could have had is going to hurt.
Detroit came out flying in the game, showing off their speed and looking clearly like the better team early. With just under five minutes gone in the first period, Todd Bertuzzi got a steal right in front of the Nashville net, and it looked like he was about to give Detroit an early lead. Pekka Rinne stepped in with one of the spectacular saves that he makes seem commonplace, and the game remained scoreless.
At about the 8:20 mark, it looked as if the Predators would score their first goal when Weber was locked in a battle behind Nashville's net and tipped the puck ahead. Gabriel Bourque simply could not finish the play. Seconds later the Predators would have the puck right out in front again, but they could not convert. Having breakaways that came up empty would be a running theme for the Predators in the game.
Pavel Datsyuk made an exceptional play for Detroit when, as he was skating into the scoring zone, he fell to the ice and tipped the puck over to Todd Bertuzzi, who had set up shop on the Pekka Rinne's right side. Bertuzzi was able to make a simple touch pass to Johan Franzen right in front of the Nasvhille net, and Franzen finished on the easy score.
Seconds after this score, the Red Wings nearly doubled up on it with an attempt in front of the Nashville net, but once again Rinne did his thing and bailed the Predators out with a fantastic save.
Ryan Ellis got called for hooking at 16:37 and after the penalty call there was a little pushing and shoving in a game that slowly started to resemble a real playoff battle. Things got chippy in the first, and the intensity only got higher as the game went on. Not only could the Wings not convert, but they committed an interference penalty and the Predators could not do anything with the 4-on-4 or the limited power play they were given.
At 14:58 of the second period, Nick Spaling tied the game up for Nashville with a goal that came directly from an outstanding play from Jordin Tootoo. Tootoo was being a pest behind the Detroit net, chasing on a play that looked like it was dead, and he actually came up with the critical steal. As soon as he had control of the puck, he dished it directly out to Spaling for the easy goal.
The third period really looked like a playoff game. Nashville picked up the intensity, going for more body shots on Detroit and not just relying on knocking away the puck (as it seemed they were doing in the first period). I don't really want to talk about what all happened next. It's like a bad dream...I just want it to go away.
Detroit extended their lead over Nashville in the standings to ten points. They will meet again in Nashville on March 10 and again in Detroit on March 30. Nashville goes to Dallas on Sunday to take on the Stars.