Tatar scores twice to help Red Wings snap Predators’ winning streak
After a while, it felt as though the Detroit Red Wings were just showing off.
Henrik Zetterberg scored from behind the goal line in the second, and Tomas Tatar batted a pass out of midair and into the net later that period, helping Detroit snap Nashville’s five-game winning streak with a 5-2 victory over the Predators on Saturday night.
Tatar had two goals and an assist.
"They’re probably the best team in the league right now by the points, and I was real excited to play against them," Tatar said. "I think we did a really good job the whole game."
Gustav Nyquist, Kyle Quincey and Tatar scored in the first period for Detroit, chasing Nashville goalie Carter Hutton from the game after only one save. Hutton was making his second start since the Predators lost Pekka Rinne to a knee injury.
The Red Wings are without their top goalie, too, but Petr Mrazek made 34 saves in place of the injured Jimmy Howard.
The Predators came in tied with Anaheim for the most points in the NHL, and this was only their second loss by more than two goals this season. Pittsburgh beat Nashville 3-0 in October.
"We made mistakes and didn’t do a good job trying to cover up for those mistakes," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "Some nights, it just doesn’t go your way. Tipped pucks out of the air, a goal going in off the back of the goalie’s head."
Detroit led 3-1 when Zetterberg surprised just about everyone with his power-play goal. The veteran forward flipped the puck toward the net from near the left corner, and it appeared to skip off goalie Marek Mazanec’s mask and slipped into the far corner of the net.
The Predators had earned at least a point in 10 straight games, but they were also coming off a hard-fought victory over Washington and former Nashville coach Barry Trotz on Friday night. The Red Wings jumped ahead after only 57 seconds, when Nyquist scored off a pass from Riley Sheahan on an odd-man rush.
"It was an emotional game for them (Friday) night," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "I think the emotion in that probably didn’t help them today, but the schedule’s what the schedule is. We needed the points. We got them."
Quincey made it 2-0 when his shot from near the blue line appeared to deflect off at least two Nashville players and past Hutton. Tatar scored 70 seconds later, and the Predators switched goalies.
"They came out strong and got some chances. They got some breaks early. That second one went off of four guys," Nashville’s Mike Fisher said. "It was their night for sure."
Mattias Ekholm scored for Nashville late in the first.
Zetterberg’s goal was so unusual that the crowd didn’t cheer in earnest until the teams were just about ready to take the ensuing faceoff. It was as if fans were having a hard time believing the puck could have gone in.
Tatar’s team-leading 20th goal made it 5-1 in the final minute of the period. He batted Sheahan’s pass out of midair and past Mazanec from right in front of the net.
"It was just a reaction. I cut to the middle and I saw puck coming in the air, and just knocked it in," Tatar said. "I think it’s more luck than anything else."
Mazanec made 18 saves in his first appearance of the season.
Fisher scored a power-play goal in the first minute of the third for Nashville.
NOTES: With 757 points, Zetterberg is one behind Norm Ullman for seventh place on Detroit’s career list. … Howard has been out with a groin injury, and Detroit was also without D Jakub Kindl (elbow), RW Tomas Jurco (back), G Jonas Gustavsson (shoulder) and RW Johan Franzen (head). In addition to Rinne, Nashville was missing D Ryan Ellis (lower body) and RW Eric Nystrom (upper body).