By Christy Hammond
After losing a season-high five games in a row, the Detroit Red Wings have now won five straight games with a 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators Tuesday night at the Sommet Center. With at least a goal in every period, the Wings never lost the lead and registered a season-high 51 shots in the win.
5:02 into the first period, Henrik Zetterberg scored his first goal of the season to give the Wings an early advantage. Defenseman Brian Rafalski had taken a shot from above the right faceoff circle and Hank popped in the rebound even as he lost his balance and was falling down to the ice.
Linemate Pavel Datsyuk fired a wrister from above the left faceoff circle and with the help of a screen down low beat Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne at 10:17 for a power-play goal.
Despite peppering Rinne with 27 shots in the first, the Wings headed into the first intermission with just a two-goal lead. In fact, the Wings have never taken 27 shots in the first period in the history of the franchise. It was the most shots notched by the team since they got 28 against the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period on Dec. 31, 1999.
Forward Marian Hossa padded the Detroit lead with another power-play goal 4:18 into the second frame. Niklas Kronwall, who was oddly stationed in the left circle, slid the puck to Hossa, who was along the inner hash marks of the circle, and flicked it in past Rinne.
The Predators responded with two straight goals in the middle frame including a power-play goal at 5:30. The Wings went 1-for-3 on the penalty kill and 2-for-7 on the power play Tuesday night.
Zetterberg would become the fourth Red Wing to tally 20 goals this season when Hank snagged a pass from Dan Cleary just before entering the Nashville zone and lifted a gorgeous backhander past Rinne from the inner hash marks of the right faceoff circle 3:10 into the third. Hank now has three goals and three assists in his four games since returning from back spasms. Coincidentally, Hank has been reunited with Datsyuk since his return and either Zetterberg or Datsyuk have scored at least one goal in each of the past four games.
Nashville’s Joel Ward refused to give up as he earned his second goal of the evening just over halfway through the final stanza. Datsyuk ensured the Red Wings’ victory thanks to an empty netter with just 12 seconds remaining on the clock.
The Wings host the Minnesota Wild this Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Everyone in attendance will receive a pretty sweet team photo from the Winter Classic.