Predators 3 Red Wings 2
NASHVILLE — Gabriel Bourque scored two goals in his post-season debut, and the Nashville Predators held onto home-ice advantage by beating Detroit Red Wings 3-2 on Wednesday night to open their Western Conference playoff series.
Game 2 is Friday night in Nashville.
Paul Gaustad scored his first post-season goal, and Pekka Rinne made 35 saves. The Predators started at home after edging Detroit for the No. 4 seed, and they started their third post-season series against their Central Division rival with their first win in the opening game.
Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom scored power-play goals for Detroit. The Red Wings lost centre Darren Helm to an upper-body injury in the first period.
Nashville gave Detroit 44 seconds of a 5-on-3 when Ryan Suter was called for slashing at with 3:52 to go. The Predators killed off the 5-on-3, but Holmstrom scored with 2:07 left to give Detroit a chance.
After Holmstrom’s goal, Nashville took its timeout while Detroit coach Mike Babcock pulled Jimmy Howard for the extra attacker. With 22.9 seconds left, Martin Erat went to the box for holding, but the Predators sealed up the victory.
Detroit came in with all the tradition thanks to 11 Stanley Cups against a Nashville franchise that has been using the Red Wings as its measuring stick since hitting the ice in 1998-99. Detroit also is the team Nashville has played the most in the post-season with nine of the first 12 games decided by two goals or fewer and the Red Wings taking first-round series in 2004 and 2008.
The Red Wings spent the past few days talking about how they enjoyed the chance to start the post-season on the road for a change.
They came into a sold-out Bridgestone Arena with much less of the Detroit red the Red Wings usually see in Nashville. The Red Wings held the NHL’s best power play in the regular season scoreless on six chances, which included 1:14 of a 5-on-3 in the first.
It was tied at 1 with Detroit firing away at Rinne, trying to take the lead when when Matt Halischuk shot at the net just after crossing the blue line. Bourque tipped it into the far corner of the net for a 2-1 lead at 12:29 of the second for a shot Howard had no chance at stopping.
Bourque scored what wound up as the winner at 11:35 with a wrister from the slot off an assist from Patric Hornqvist.
The Predators played without one of their biggest trade acquisitions. Defenceman Hal Gill was scratched because of a lower-body injury.
But Gaustad scored at 6:59 for a 1-0 lead. Nashville sent Buffalo its first-round pick in June for Gaustad, and he responded by scoring his first post-season goal by throwing the puck toward the crease as he skated behind the net, and it banked off Detroit defenceman Brad Stuart’s left skate past Howard. It also was Gaustad’s first goal with Nashville.
Commissioner Gary Bettman was in attendance, and that might be why officials stayed busy calling plenty of penalties with six in the first period alone.
During Nashville’s second power play, Helm dropped a glove on the ice and raced to the locker room.
Nashville outshot Detroit 13-5 in the first. The Red Wings took the first seven shots of the second and took advantage when defenceman Roman Josi was called for cross-checking at 1:10 of the period. Zetterberg scored at 2:29 of the first, beating Rinne with the goalie sprawled out on his back.
Nashville had a power play of its own on a tripping call on Zetterberg but couldn’t manage a shot. The Predators didn’t take a shot until Shea Weber nearly nine minutes into the period before Bourque’s redirect put them ahead to stay.
Notes: Nashville also had a franchise-record 25 sellouts during the regular season. … Gaustad came in with eight assists in 38 playoff games before scoring his first post-season goal. … Nashville F Jordin Tootoo, one of three Predators who played in their first playoff against Detroit in 2004, was a healthy scratch. … Nashville right wing Brandon Yip had an assist on Gaustad’s goal. He has five points (2 goals, 3 assists) in seven career playoff games. … Zetterberg’s goal was his 50th in the post-season. He led Detroit with six points against Nashville during the regular season.