The momentum has shifted in favor of the Nashville Predators, but no one wearing blue and gold is counting out the Detroit Red Wings.
Predators goaltender Dan Ellis stopped 39 of 41 shots on the way to his second straight playoff win, a 3-2 decision Wednesday night at the Sommet Center in the Western Conference quarterfinals. The win tied the first-round series at 2-2.
Ellis, in goal for the first two losses of the series in Detroit, thinks the Predators will have completely different attitude when they face the Red Wings Friday night at Joe Louis Arena.
“The first couple of games really didn’t go our way,” Ellis said. “We got away from the things that could give us success. Our confidence level is improving. We are back on equal footing. We are gaining a little bit of momentum.
“We are starting to believe in ourselves much more. We believe we are in this series. We believe we are just as good as Detroit. We are going to battle in this one all the way to the end.”
With the series tied, the pressure is shifting to the Red Wings to stop the underdog Predators. But Ellis knows the Red Wings, who benched Dominik Hasek at the 6:35 mark of the second period in favor of Chris Osgood, are not going to be easily flustered.
“Detroit is very prideful team,” Ellis said. “They have a lot of veterans. They believe in themselves. They don’t like to be pushed around and that is something we are trying to do.
“We are trying to play physical on each and every one of their players, especially their skill players. You want to put that kind of pressure on them.”
Ellis also expects Hasek and Osgood to rebound in net for the Red Wings.
“We are starting to attack their net a lot more,” Ellis said. “They have two great goaltenders. We knew if we got through Dom we were going to have to get through Osgood right after that. They are both veteran goaltenders. They have both been No. 1 goaltenders.”
This time around, all three goals were scored by defensemen. Dan Hamhuis and Shea Weber scored in the first period and Greg de Vries added what proved to be the game-winner in the second period.
The quick start was one of the keys to the win. Weber thinks it will be even more important to score quickly in Game 5.
“Detroit is a very good quick start team, especially at home,” Weber said. “To be able to come and get an early lead will be important. It is a little bit different playing ahead of them than playing behind them.”
Ellis, who played with a lead in the first and second period for the first time in the series, agrees that another quick start is a necessity for the Predators.
“You don’t want to give them momentum in a game right away,” said Ellis. “They have some very nifty players. They have a lot of skill. If you give them too much momentum right away they are able to build off of that.”
This was the third consecutive playoff game that the Predators scored two goals in less than 33 seconds. Hamhuis scored at the 5:18 mark and Weber scored at 5:50.
They scored a pair of goals in 11 seconds in game two. They scored two in nine seconds in game three, a new franchise record for the fastest two playoff goals.
Predators coach Barry Trotz was at a loss to explain the quick scoring trend.
“There’s no real key,” Trotz said. “I wish I could bottle it because I could probably make a few dollars in the coaching fraternity. We have done a good job of making something happen after a goal one way or the other.”
Center Pavel Datsyuk scored both goals for the Red Wings with one in the second on the power play and one in the third. The Predators were outshot 30-18 in the final two periods. Trotz thought his team lost its shooting touch after de Vries scored at the 6:35 mark of the second period.
“We were doing a good job of creating screens and getting pucks to the net, but I thought we got away from that after the third goal,” Trotz said. “We passed up shots. We tried to make plays that were too fancy.”