By Christy Hammond
The Detroit Red Wings (23-7-4) lose their first game since Dec. 15th in a 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators (17-14-3) in front of a sellout crowd at the Sommet Center.
To top that off, the Wings also lost captain Nicklas Lidstrom to an injury early in the second period. Fortunately, head coach Mike Babcock talked to FS Detroit’s John Keating after the game and said that the injury was a result of blocking a shot during a penalty kill. The injury prevented Lidstrom from really being able to turn well on one of his feet so he left the ice after one shift in the second period. He got x-rays, which came back negative, so it really is a matter of when Lidstrom can comfortably return to play. Babcock couldn’t say if he’d be ready to play Saturday night against Colorado, but we’ll have to see how Lidstrom feels after a night of rest.
The first goal of the game didn’t come until just about halfway through the first period on a slapshot by Nashville’s defenseman Greg Zanon. Detroit would score almost five minutes later when Jiri Hudler made a heads up pass to Dan Cleary, who deked left before taking the puck to the right along the boards and then bringing the puck to the forehand to flip the puck into the net. Pavel Datsyuk also earned an assist on the goal giving him 12 points in the last six games.
Predators goaltender Dan Ellis made an impressive 38 saves in the contest to give Nashville the first win in this season series. His biggest save arguably came when the Predators turned the puck over near the Detroit blue line giving Datsyuk a clear shorthanded breakaway easily by the time he hit center ice. He carried the puck in similar to what one would see in a shootout, but Ellis made a big save and helped swing the momentum in Nashville’s favor.
Less than a minute later, the Predators would score and go on to take a 3-1 lead by the second intermission with goals by Kevin Klein and Vern Fiddler.
Mikael Samuelsson scored Detroit’s only other goal of the game on a slapshot from just outside the bottom of the left faceoff circle. He had received a saucer pass from defenseman Andreas Lilja up top. I know I gave Lilja a lot of grief last year, but I truly have been impressed with the improvement I’ve seen this year. He certainly seems to be playing with a lot more confidence.
Hudler now has 99 career points after Friday night’s assist so tune in Saturday night to see if he’ll reach No. 100 against the Colorado Avalanche.