Preds drop second straight as Wings roll…

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Well, one thing is clear: Detroit is still the king of the Central.

At the beginning of the week, the Nashville Predators sat on top of the Western Conference. They now sit fourth in the Central Division thanks to, in part, a 5-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night in front of (a reported) 18,711 at Joe Louis Arena.

The Preds, for the first time this season, looked a lot like the Predators of old. On this night – against one of the proverbial Stanley Cup favorites – they were slow, they didn’t make tape-to-tape passes, they didn’t fire the puck enough and, at times, seemed completely in awe of the star power wearing red and white.

Hopefully something Pred fans will not be seeing very often this year.

In the opening period, the play was even up until the Red Wings took the first penalty of the game, giving Nashville a power play. The Preds had decent pressure but only registered a single shot on net and surrendered a short-handed chance.

Detroit got on the board a few minutes later as Pekka Rinne and the Predators were scrambling.  Everyone wearing a Nashville sweater was looking at the puck, rather than their man, after the initial shot by Pavel Datsyuk. Tomas Holmstrom got the carom off the end boards and had an empty net to shoot at but Shea Weber dove across, taking away the shot. He responded by passing to Ruslan Salei who fired a shot, which was saved by Rinne. But the rebound went to Henrik Zetterberg behind the net, who fired a pass to Datsyuk who, by this time, was all alone in the slot. He made no mistake as he blasted one past a desperate Rinne, putting Detroit up 1-0.

Then, with just over 1:30 left in the period, Brad Stuart jammed home a loose puck while Rinne tried, again desperately, to cover it along the far post. The Red Wings then found themselves up 2-0 after the initial 20 minutes.

“The second goal, that one really angered me,” Head Coach Barry Trotz told Pete Weber and Terry Crisp on the broadcast. “The defenseman (Stuart) coming in and getting three whacks at it, c’mon, that’s not good hockey right there.”

It looked like the bad luck would continue as the Preds had a three-on-one early in the second period and appeared destined to score. Instead, Joel Ward passed to the trailing Kevin Klein, but, instead of shooting or passing to Nick Spaling who would have had a slam-dunk at back door, Klein elected to go back to Ward who bobbled the pass. Nashville failed to get a shot off on that sequence.

They did get a power play out of it though. On the ensuing man advantage, Nashville had several chances, finally resulting in Ward putting the puck past Chris Osgood one second after the Detroit penalty expired, essentially a power play goal.

The second period would not be all roses, however. Before the horn sounded, the Red Wings would regain the two goal lead on a tally by Datsyuk. Spaling, at the end of a shift, stuck with Datsyuk as long as he could. The two battled in the corner, back and fourth. Finally, Datsyuk came out of the corner and Spaling stuck with him but, when he crashed the net, Spaling just couldn’t keep up and Dastyuk scored his second of the night.

Things didn’t get any better in the third stanza as the Red Wings finally converted on the power play. Holmstrom deflected a Nicklas Lidstrom blast from the point to put Detroit up 4-1.

Just 2:08 later, Patrick Eaves took a shot from the high slot and it got passed Rinne. It was the first goal Rinne allowed tonight that he really should have stopped. The others were either results of a scrambling defense, a screen or a deflection. This one, however, he just seemed to be caught off guard, not expecting a shot at all.

Nashville got back on the board on a beautiful, patient play by Weber. Steve Sullivan fed Weber a cross-ice feed and Osgood came out to challenge. Weber didn’t have a shot though so he carried around the back of the net. With everybody looking at the puck, Klein got open and Weber got him the puck for a one-timer that blew past a heavily screened Osgood.

It wasn’t even enough to get the ball rolling, however, as Nashville could never find the back of the net again and would drop this one by the score of 5-2.

Nashville will now fly out west to take on the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night. Get a nap in so you can stay up for this one. Puck drops at 9:00pm Central.

LEFTOVER THOUGHTS:
* Coming into Saturday’s contest, Osgood had 18 career wins over Nashville.
* Wade Belak was suited up to play defense but didn’t play a single shift.
* Linus Klasen took his first NHL shift with Sergei Kostitsyn and Jerred Smithson.
* Klasen was used sparingly as he only logged 6:22 of ice time on a mere eight shifts.
* Ward, in 14 career games against Detroit, has 10 points.
* The Predators have now allowed at least three goals in three consecutive games.
* Jordin Tootoo and Francis Bouillon were scratched with an upper body injury.
* Datsyuk had two goals on two shots and added an assist to claim first star honors.
* Rinne made 23 saves on 28 shots, easily his worst performance of the young season.
* Alexander Sulzer finished a minus-3.
* Surprisingly considering the score, Klein finished with a plus-2 rating. Klein and Ward (plus-1) were the only Predators to finish on the plus side.
* Only Ward (67%) and Spaling (55%) had a winning percentage in the face-off dot for Nashville.
* Sullivan was held off the scoresheet for the seventh consecutive game. And, as was discussed on the most recent 303:30, yes, he only took two shots.
* Nashville is tied for scoring the least amount of goals in the Western Conference with the Phoenix Coyotes (23).
* The Predators have now played 10 games this season and Martin Erat has yet to score a single goal.
* Nashville finishes the month of October with a record of 5-2-3.