Detroit gets revenge, ties up series with Preds
Consider the message sent to the Nashville Predators: the Red Wings will not be pushed around and anything your goalie can do, so can ours.
Todd Bertuzzi set the tone for the Wings and Jimmy Howard backed him and the rest of the team up.
Bertuzzi took all of 96 seconds of the first period to engage defenseman Shea Weber in a fight, obvious retaliation for Weber's shoving the head of Henrik Zetterberg into the glass at the end of Game 1.
"We just wanted to win," Bertuzzi told FOX Sports Detroit's John Keating. "It doesn't matter what you do, you've got to do what you can do to help the team out. Whether it's that or whether it's scoring goals or playmaking. I thought it was a team effort. I thought Jimmy played really well."
The fight, which was mostly a draw, turned out to be even more important as Johan Franzen was called for cross-checking at the same time, meaning Weber's blistering shot would be confined to the penalty box while his team was on the power play.
"I thought Bert did an unbelievable job for us at the start," coach Mike Babcock told Keating. "I thought we built from there."
Neither Babcock nor Franzen, who plays on a line with Bertuzzi and center Pavel Datsyuk, seemed surprised by Bertuzzi's move.
"He was talking about how he wanted to play left wing so he could get a little closer contact with Weber back there," Franzen told Keating. "We kept our position and he did his job anyway. Great job by him and good for us."
Brad Stuart said he had no idea that Bertuzzi was planning to take Weber on, but appreciated the way he did it.
"It was a great time to get him off the ice," Stuart told Keating. "They have a power play and Weber's in the box for five minutes so it actually worked out to our advantage. It's over and done with. I thought Bert did a real good job of not sacrificing anything for the team just to take out a vendetta against him."
Howard, meanwhile, was up for the challenge of the league's top power play, finishing with 24 saves in the Wings' 3-2 victory over the Predators in Game 2, tying the first round series 1-1.
"Howie made some big saves for us early on, there's no question they had some good opportunities and Howie's there to shut the door," Stuart said. "As a player, when you see that, that gives you confidence, gives you a boost and we're able to kind of build from there."
The Wings managed to kill off all five of the Predators' power plays and have extended their streak on the penalty kill to 37, dating back to the regular season.
"We obviously gotta take a look at ourselves, we're taking way too many penalties in two games," Babcock said. "We can't continue to take penalties like that and be successful so we're going to have to smarten up with our sticks and stuff like that."
The Wings seemed to draw inspiration from Bertuzzi's fight with Weber and from Howard's heroics, taking a 2-0 lead in the first on goals by defenseman Ian White and forward Cory Emmerton.
"Millsie (Drew Miller) did a good job, he went down low first so I just tried to get on the (defense) and just get in the lane and it went off my toe there and I got a fortunate bounce and he kind of lost his footing so there was a good chance for a 2-on-1," Emmerton told Keating. "I saw the D-man just sliding over because he saw the pressure so I had to make a decision whether to shoot or pass and obviously shooting's usually a good option. Just tried to get a good shot off and fortunately it went in."
Franzen ended up with the game-winner when Stuart's shot went off of his leg and past the now beatable Pekka Rinne 56 seconds after the Predators had cut the lead to 2-1 on Andrei Kostitsyn's goal.
The game was mission accomplished for the Wings in several ways.
First, Bertuzzi handled the Weber situation quickly and without hurting the team, ending all the criticism about the team lacking tough guys.
Second, the Wings have shown their specialty teams, especially the penalty kill, are so far on par with the Predators'.
Third, the Wings won a road game, so everyone can stop worrying about whether the team's poor regular season road record will haunt them in the playoffs.
Now the Wings just have to clean up the penalties and play their usual solid home game, but it certainly won't be easy.
"I think we came out real strong, finished checks, Bert showed right away we don't accept that kind of stuff from them," Franzen said. "We played really hard, Howie was great in net as well.
"Played a good, strong game today and but it's going to be tight all the way in."
Or, as Babcock told Keating, series on.