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Red Wings Sleep Through 1st Period, Preds Win

Some folks may have been checking their Nashville Predators tickets in the first period tonight to make sure they said "Detroit Red Wings" as the opponent, as in the early going Detroit looked like anything but the team that's sacked & pillaged their way through the NHL. On their first shift, Jason Arnott, J.P. Dumont and Alexander Radulov out-muscled and out-hustled the Wings to put Nashville up 1-0 just 2:25 in. Dumont fed the puck off the boards to Arnott, who, while being checked, threw a shot on net. Radulov, who had just crossed in front of the crease to sneak in behind Nick Lidstrom, caught the puck before it got to Chris Osgood and pulled it over to the other side of the net before firing it home. A catfish hit the ice during the stoppage in play, and the Sommet Center crowd was on their feet.

They were barely done with their celebrating and "Osgood... Osgood... Osgood... You Suck!" chants when the Preds scored again to stretch the lead to 2-0. After a Greg de Vries shot from the left point sent the puck caroming around the boards, it came all the way to Dan Hamhuis at the right point, and Dallas Drake came in to jam it free and clear the zone. On the back end, the Wings defenders (Rafalski & Lebda) were already 10-15 feet ahead of two Nashville forwards in anticipation of a rush the other way, but Hamhuis not only kept the puck in, he fed it down to Martin Erat in the slot, who then had plenty of time for a little give-and-go with Rich Peverley that left Osgood sprawling while Erat fired a wrister over him easily for the score. I couldn't believe I was watching a Mike Babcock team, let alone the high-flying Red Wings. It looked more like beer-league action, where everyone wants to jump into the rush regardless of whether anyone's left in behind them.

One funny episode happened about 8 minutes in; as Lebda was Mallachi Crunched behind the net by Scott Nichol and Vern Fiddler, his hockey stick got caught in a seam between panes of glass. A fan pulled it all the way through as play headed back the other way, and after play stopped, a ref came over and retrieved it to some scattered boos. Here's what I don't understand; if I'm at a hockey game, and I get an opposing player's stick like that, the proper thing to do is SMASH THE THING TO BITS. Don't just let him have it back!!!

Anyways, the party resumed shortly thereafter, as Marek Zidlicky found Arnott coming down the slot, and he was able to feed a wide-open J.P. Dumont off to Osgood's right for another easy goal, 3-0 Nashville. Jimmy Howard came into net in relief of Ozzie, but this was more about Babcock calling out his team than any issue with the goaltending. I don't think I've seen consecutive easier goals scored in a game for a looooooong time, let alone against the top team in the NHL. I thought some of the nervous rumblings on some of the Wings blogs must have been overblown, but now I think I understand some of their concern.

The 2nd period saw the Wings look more like their dangerous selves, putting 16 shots on net and scoring two impressive power play goals; in between, however, Radulov scored his second goal of the night on a thrilling rush into the zone. With Lidstrom pestering him from behind, A-Rad went to the backhand before tucking the puck through Howard's 5-hole to keep the Preds firmly in control of the game. Radulov has been on a huge roll of late, and is perhaps becoming the sort of prime-time scoring threat that Nashville fans have been hoping for.

Early in the 3rd, Valtteri Filppula drew a tripping call on Greg Zanon (and unbelievably didn't get called for diving at the same time), leading to a huge opportunity for Detroit to climb back within one. Chris Mason stood strong in net on a couple good chances for Filppula and Tomas Holmstrom, allowing the Preds to kill that penalty off leaving 15 minutes left in the game. The Red Wings kept firing away, with 42 shots in total for the game, but the Preds held their ground and picked up 2 gigantic points in the standings.

As any of the contenders look at their upcoming schedules, not many assume that they'll earn points against Detroit along the way. I recently looked at the current 9-game, 15 day segment of the schedule and said that if Nashville earned 11 points they'd be in good shape; so far, the've earned 4 points in the first three games, a nice start for sure. Up next is Chicago at home on Valentine's Day. Here's hoping the Blackhawks are in a lovin', not a fightin' mood.

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