When you play the Detroit Red Wings, you have to bring your "A" game. Tonight, it would be generous to say that the best the Nashville Predators brought to the ice was an "F".
Numerous penalties, a depleted lineup due to injury, and a less than stellar effort doomed the Predators in this road contest at the Joe.
Pavel Datsyuk got the Wings on the board at 12:11 of the first period on a scrambled play in the Nashville zone. Pekka Rinne made two saves, but the defense lost sight of Pavel Datsyuk, who was left alone inside the faceoff circle. Henrik Zetterberg drew the defense to him and found Datsyuk, who had a wide open net in which to shoot the puck.
Detroit added to the lead at 18:24 of the first as Brad Stuart poked a puck past Rinne in a goal mouth scrum. Nashville did not do a good job of clearing the net all night, and it burnt them time and again.
It looked as if the Predators were going to start to make it a contest, as Joel Ward buried a shot from the low slot past a screened Chris Osgood, who got the start for an injured Jimmy Howard. Ward's marker came at 7:49 of the second period, a period in which the Predators put good pressure on the Wings.
The Wings would still the momentum back from the Predators as Pavel Datsyuk would strike again at 18:49 of the second. Datsyuk abused Nick Spaling with a great move out of the corner and walked in on Rinne. Alexander Sulzer was late coming over with defensive help and Rinne was beaten five hole by the shifty Datsyuk.
The wheels started coming off for the Predators in the third period. The Predators gave Detroit their fifth power play of the night as J.P. Dumont was called for tripping and Tomas Holmstrom made the Predators pay for their transgressions.
The Wings would score 1:08 later as Patrick Eaves beat Rinne with a shot that just seemed to completely surprise him. Rinne was under siege most of the night, but this was decidedly a soft goal.
Kevin Klein would bring the Predators to within 3 as he rifled a shot past Osgood at 9:39 of the period. This goal was made possible because Joel Ward was doing a great job of screening in front of Osgood and took away his vision on the shot.
The Wings spent the remainder of the game choking the life out of the Predators, and although they generated a few quality scoring chances, they were unable to solve Osgood.
The Predators sustained their second loss in a row, and frankly the effort in both was not up to what the Predators can normally bring to the ice. I will acknowledge that this team is playing with a a juggled lineup due to injury. Every team, however, deals with injuries. This team has to overcome them and bring a better effort.
For the second game in a row, Martin Erat, Steve Sullivan, Colin Wilson, and David Legwand all registered just one shot apiece on net. These are guys that are expected to carry the scoring load and in the last few games, they have not produced. It is time for these players to step up their games.
In particular, Marty Erat has been virtually invisible on the ice.He has too much talent not to generate chances and get on the score sheet. Taking one shot a game is not going to cut it.
It is a long season, and every team goes through a drought. This is one that the Predators are enduring. The question is, how long will it last?
Each player in that locker room has to look at their effort and ask what am I doing to break out of this slump?
It's time to get back on track and stop being dominated and embarrassed.
My three stars of the game:
1. Pavel Datsyuk
2. Tomas Holmstrom
3. Chris Osgood