Boy, that was a close one.
The Detroit Red Wings jumped out to a 2-0 lead before two quick goals by the Nashville Predators tied the game at two. If that wasn't bad enough, two shots banged off the posts behind goaltender Dominik Hasek, and the Wings were rattled.
Head Coach Mike Babcock sensed his team was on a downward spiral, and called a quick timeout. After he regrouped his team and sent them back on the ice, Kris Draper scored, and the Red Wings went on to win game two of their playoff run for the 2008 Stanley Cup.
Now the details. The Predators entered this game against Detroit looking like they were out for blood. They came out fast and hard, with lots of checking on the boards, and tried to out-skate Detroit.
That took its toll on Nashville. By the middle of the first period, they would dump and chase the puck into the Wings' zone. Not the best move against NHL's best team.
Dump-and-chase hockey is a strategy all teams use and for different reasons. It can be very effective, though, only if you have a fast team; one that can out-skate your opponent throughout the game, and there are three basic ways a team would use the dump-and-chase tactic.
No. 1: A player, usually the right or left post man, will slap the puck around the boards as hard as he can, with the intention of getting the puck to the opposite post and the setup man, then the rest of the team follows in to set up the play to try and score.
No. 2: The player with the puck brings it up ice to the opposing team's blue line and shoots it in, while the rest of his team crashes the net with one of them chasing it down deep in hopes of getting a centering pass in front of the net.
This method can be effective especially late in a game when the team is down by one or two goals and they want a quick score.
No. 3: The team is tired.
As stated before, Nashville started the first period fast and hard, tried to out-skate Detroit for maybe a quick score or two to get the Wings off their game and a possible Predator win in Detroit.
However, it seemed like they quickly ran out of gas too early in the first period and began the dump-and-chase to conserve energy. In any case, it didn't work for Nashville this time.
Detroit began the scoring a little over two minutes into the first period when Darren McCarty tipped in a pass from Dallas Drake that scooted past Nashville goaltender Dan Ellis.
For Detroit fans, it was probably the sweetest goal of the night.
McCarty has worked his fanny off these last few months, probably more like the entire season, to gain the respect he once held in Hockeytown. When he scored, the fans looked like they went crazy. Nice job, Mr. McCarty, very glad to see you back in Hockeytown.
The teams went into the locker room for the first intermission with Detroit up 1-0. Nicklas Lidstrom scored less than a minute into the second period, giving the Red Wings a 2-0 lead.
Then it was Nashville's turn.
Less than two minutes later, the Preds dumped the puck into the Detroit zone. Hasek went behind the net to stop it and the puck took an odd bounce back right in front of the Detroit goal. Before Hasek could get back to his net, Alexander Radulov shot the puck into the goal for an easy score.
Eleven seconds later, Jordin Tootoo stole the puck from Andreas Lilja and scored though Hasek's five-hole.
Then, shortly after that, two quick shots by Ryan Suter and Radek Bonk rang the post behind Detroit's veteran goaltender, and Nashville looked like they were going to take game two.
Detroit was visibly shaken for the next couple of minutes, until Coach Babcock called a time out. Detroit came to their bench, relaxed, regrouped, and Draper scored a New York second later.
Their fourth goal came in the third period by Tomas Holmstrom from a pass by Pavel Datsyuk, icing the game for good.
Detroit now heads to Nashville for a Monday night game against the Preds; game time is 7:30 pm (6:30 central time).
And thanks to Mike Babcock for listening to me.
After Nashville's second goal, I was yelling at him, from my couch, to call a timeout. I know it's a long distance from Tulsa to Detroit, but thanks for finally hearing me.