The Nashville Predators eliminated the Red Wings from the postseason on Friday night at Bridgestone Arena when they edged Detroit 2-1. It took the Predators only 5 games to send the Red Wings to an early offseason.
Predators advance to the second round of the playoffs with their 2-1 win over Detroit on Friday night.
It was the first time that Nashville eliminated the Red Wings from the playoffs. The two teams meet previously in both the 2004 and 2008 postseasons. With the 4-1 series win, the Predators move on to the Western Conference Semi-Finals for the second consecutive year.
David Legwand, Alexander Radulov and rookie Gabriel Bourque dominated play for the Predators during Game 5. Since the third period of Game 4, the three have been linemates and have largely been responsible for Nashville’s offensive production.
“It was good. We were getting chances, creating chances and doing the right things out there,” Legwand said. “We hung on there in the third. We created a couple more chances. We had chances in every period, I think. That was huge for us. We did the right things in the third at the end of the game and we didn’t clock watch too much.”From behind the Detroit net, Legwand picked up the puck and passed it to Radulov who was in the slot. Radulov beat Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard to put Nashville up 1-0 at 16:10 of the first period.
“I think he [Kyle Quincey] just tried to push it to [Jonathan] Ericsson, and he just kind of whiffed on it. I knew [Radulov] was coming down the slot there, and I just kind of put it out there for him to skate into,” Legwand said.
Radulov had 4 shots on goal and took another 4 shots that never made it through to Howard. He also assisted on Legwand’s goal early in the third period.
Detroit tied the game at 1-1 in the second period on a goal by Jiri Hudler, his second of the series. The goal was scored with 6:15 remaining in the middle frame.
The game’s only other tally came just 13 seconds into the final frame. Legwand beat Howard to make it a 2-1 game for Nashville. The Predators were able to hold on for the win.
Legwand had 5 shots on goals, 3 takeaways, and won 75 percent of the faceoffs he took, going 6 and 2 in the faceoff circle. The center also assisted on the first period goal by Radulov.
The Detroit, Michigan native had led Nashville’s offense during the last two playoff seasons for the Predators. Legwand was instrumental in 2010 against Chicago and a season ago when Nashville played Anaheim and Vancouver.
Legwand ended the series with two goals and two assists, but was held scoreless in the first three games.
“[Legwand] was a guy that I knew at some point could break out in the series and be a difference maker, and today he was,” Head Coach Barry Trotz said. “David Legwand had his A‐game tonight.
“David played with fierce competitiveness, lots of detail in his game, and he was using his assets, that speed and hockey sense. I thought he was really good. He and [Radulov] and [Bourque] were dangerous all night.”
The series was tied after the first two games. Nashville won three straight contests. In those three games, the Predators allowed only four goals against. Rinne was a real standout for the Predators.
The first round exit for Detroit is the first time since 2006 that the Red Wings were eliminated so early in the postseason. That year, the Edmonton Oilers toppled the Wings.
“They are one of the top organizations in the League. They have had success for the last 25 years. Their core group is still there and are going to be there for a while. They are a strong hockey team,” Legwand said, adding, “We have [Rinne], we stole a couple games in there and did the right things here tonight. We took the series tonight. We had our best game tonight. We had the puck a little more tonight, that’s a big thing. They didn’t have the puck as much as they did in Detroit. That limited their chances.”
Nashville is the first team to advance to the second round of the playoffs. Who the Predators meet next remains unknown. With St. Louis, Los Angeles and Phoenix each up 3-1 in their respective series, a date with the Coyotes is the most likely scenario.
The Predators have Saturday off, but return to practice on Sunday at 11 am at Bridgestone Arena.