Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit  |  Last updated 4/15/12
DETROIT The Detroit Red Wings may be down 2-1 in their first-round series against the Nashville Predators, but they really don't have a ton of room for improvement. It's just a few little things that are making the difference between winning and losing penalties, scoring first and faceoffs. Sure, the penalty thing is the one area that really needs to be better but it's not always easy to tell how the game is going to be called. "I think some of the calls is penalties, some is not," said Henrik Zetterberg, who had nine shots. "I think we don't really know how you should play out there. It is playoffs and then it seems like it's not playoffs." The Wings had killed off all 12 of the Predator's power plays before Game 3. It was the 13th that did them in. While Drew Miller was in the penalty box for goaltender interference after he crashed into Pekka Rinne on a breakaway, the Predators finally capitalized when Shea Weber scored on a rebound just 2:48 into the game. "It's my penalty so it's a tough one when you get a goaltender interference on a breakaway like that," Miller said. "I wasn't trying to hit him, I was just going so fast trying to get across the crease. It's a tough one to give up that early in the game, too." The end result of the game was just like the other two games, a 3-2 decision, this one going to the Predators and giving them their first playoff victory in Detroit. Captain Nick Lidstrom said the Wings will have to find a way to be more disciplined. "You've got to be more aware, but you can't use your stick," Lidstrom said. "You can't tug someone. You can't interfere with someone. You've got to be a lot smarter. And you've got to think about it, too. Sometimes you've got to take a penalty to stop the scoring chance, but just be more aware of what they're calling out there." Killing penalties also disrupts the ability of the team to roll four lines consistently. "We got to stay out of the box," coach Mike Babcock said. "Putting ourselves on a five on three was real tough. You talk about flow of the game. If you're going to be in the penalty box that really makes it tough for you being in the box that much. You're wearing out your players killing, even though your penalty killing has been good, you're wearing yourself out." Another area where the Wings can be better is scoring first. It's no coincidence that the team that has scored first in this series has won every game. The Wings have fallen behind in eight of their last nine games and 16 of their last 20, including the three playoff games. "For sure, this team's way too good to be playing from behind," defenseman Kyle Quincey said. "Great goaltending, whole team defense. I think the next game the biggest thing is try to get the first goal. We had the first goal in Game 2 and we were OK there. I think that's a huge key for us." Finally, the Wings will have to win more faceoffs, especially in their own zone. They won only 45 percent of them in Game 3. "I thought we had to win faceoffs at the start, we were 0 for 4, so they got on top of us," Babcock said. "The team that wins the draw ends up on the forecheck, gets on top of the other team. The thing I find is the other team is trying, too. You're trying to get off to a good start, they're trying to get off to a good start." The Wings outshot the Predators, 43-22. The only times the Wings got to Rinne were when Pavel Datsyuk picked the puck from Roman Josi and snuck it in the right side of the net before Rinne recovered, and a late Zetterberg goal on the power play when he found the top right corner of the net with less than a minute remaining in the third period. "I thought we did a real good job the first two periods in Nashville (Game 1)," Babcock said. "Last game we didn't do it at all, kind of got on our heels in Nashville in the third period. Tonight, once we got our head around the fact you got to shoot the puck we were better. "We got to shoot the puck to break them down. If we're going to do that we have to have people going to the net. So I thought we did a pretty good job there. Let's be honest, if we look at the game, the puck didn't go in for us. It did for them. We got to fix that the next game." It wasn't just Rinne. His defensemen were there when he couldn't be. On another Miller breakaway, defenseman Kevin Klein (who also scored Nashville's second goal to make it 2-0 early in the second) got his stick Cory Emmerton's rebound chance. "That was awesome,"Rinne said. "He's done that a lot this year. I guess he has a little bit of goalie instinct, but he made a huge block ... really saved a for-sure goal. That's obviously one of the key plays." If the Wings can change at least two of the three main problem areas penalties, scoring first and faceoffs, chances are they can even the series up before heading back to Nashville for Game 5.
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