DETROIT — Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock plans to start Chris Osgood against the Nashville Predators in Game 5.
What will happen beyond that point, Babcock isn’t saying.
Dominik Hasek, the starter in the first four games, was replaced at the 6:35 mark of the second period in the Predators’ 3-2 win Wednesday night in Game 5 at the Sommet Center. Osgood came in and stopped the Predators the rest of the way, turning back all 13 shots he faced.
Game 5 of the Western Conference quarterfinals series is set for 6:30 p.m. tonight here at the Joe Louis Arena. The best-of-seven series is tied at 2-2.
Game 6 will be played Sunday at 2 at the Sommet Center.
“Dominik got us up 2-0 in the series,” said Babcock. “But in Nashville the puck didn’t hit him.
“Ozzie came in and played well. I told Ozzie he would be starting. He has an opportunity here. I told Dom to get on the ice and get his work done and be ready.”
The Predators wanted to play well enough offensively to force Hasek to the bench. But Osgood is certainly not a drop-off. Both he and Hasek have been No. 1 goaltenders. Both have been NHL All-Stars with Osgood starting for the Western Conference at this season’s game in Atlanta. Osgood led the NHL in goals-against average (2.09) during the regular season and posted a 27-9-4 record.
“We have confidence that we can score against Hasek, but Osgood is going to be an even tougher challenge,” said Jason Arnott, Predators center and team captain. “We still have to do the things we have done well the last two games in order to score goals no matter who is in goal for them.”
Predators coach Barry Trotz is not breathing a sigh of relief either because of the change.
“I know Ozzie has had a terrific season,” said Trotz. “In any series the main goal is to try to get to the opposing goaltender. We were fortunate. And it will be tough to score on Chris.
“There were some goals I couldn’t fault Dom on. We had some traffic on some of the shots. As a goaltender you are looking for the shot, but we had moving traffic in front of him at the right time.”
Dan Ellis has been in goal for the Predators in all four games. Trotz has no plans to make a change.
“He has been very solid,” Trotz said. “Danny has been really focused the last 15 of 16 games. We have ridden him a little bit here.
“I think he is enjoying the moment. He has taken it on himself to prove that he can play in this league and be consistent. He has done that.”
Ellis wasn’t surprised to hear that the Red Wings had decided to start Osgood. He stressed the Predators can’t change their approach just because the Red Wings have made a change.
“We have played Chris a few times this year and he has played us really strong,” Ellis said. “The fact we were able to get to Dom a little bit the past couple of games was a good note for us. But they have Chris, another one of those great No. 1 goalies in this league.
“We have to get pucks at him the same way we did Dominik. We have to continue our offensive pressure.”