In a battle between two of the hottest teams in the Western Conference, the Nashville Predators capitalized on a pair of mistakes by Jimmy Howard to triumph over the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 4-3
For Detroit, this game was a chance to keep control of their season series after a dominant 4-1 win on Black Friday, while Nashville hoped to extend their longest win streak of the season and even the score.
For 54 minutes, the Red Wings seemed have all the answers, until one star player made a major miscue, and another capitalized upon it.
The Red Wings controlled the first period almost from the drop of the puck, repeatedly testing Pekka Rinne and the Nashville defense. Todd Bertuzzi drew a hooking call on Ryan Suter after he was dropped to the ice by a stick in his legs. Impressively, the veteran forward found the opportunity to flip the puck at the net while siding down the ice on his belly and Suter riding atop him like a sled.
On the ensuring power play, the Wings moved the puck with their characteristic poise before Tomas Holmstrom was able to open the scoring from his customary location just outside of the Nashville Crease. Ian White fired a long shot from the point that Holmstrom collected off Rinne's pads, circled just enough to find a gap behind the Finnish netminder, and tucked the puck into the open net.
The Predators equalized midway though the opening period when Kevin Kline led a breakout from behind his own net. David Legwand took the puck and rimmed it around the Detroit zone to Martin Erat, who passed the puck from behind the net and out to Craig Smith. Smith fired a shot into Jimmy Howard's pads that rebounded back to Legwand. Legwand fired, caught another rebound when Howard was unable to trap the puck with his glove, and roofed the shot.
That score would last through the end of the period and into the midpoint of the game, and a power play would strike again. Drew Miller drew another penalty for the Wings, sending Jerred Smithson to the penalty box. Ian White set up another Detroit goal, and Bertuzzi would pass the rebound to Jiri Hudler as he drove to the net. Hudler waited for Rinne to commit on the shot before sending a quick feed to Henrik Zetterberg. The Swede tossed the puck into the net before any defender could adjust, finishing the play.
The Red Wings extended their lead just a few minutes later when White tossed the puck back and forth with Nicklas Lidstrom along the Nashville blue line. Lidstrom spotted an open lane, aimed, and fired a furious shot that slipped past Rinne.
The Predators cut the Detroit lead back down to one when Jordin Tootoo collected a Klein rebound at the right faceoff dot with less than three minutes left in the period, quickly snapping it home on only the Predators' 13th shot of the game.
The Wings attempted to smother Nashville's regained momentum, hammering at Rinne for another 13 shots, but the game turned when Jimmy Howard made a mental lapse. Getting his goal stick up on Nick Spaling, he was whistled for a penalty and Justin Abdelkader was placed into the penalty box while Howard attempted to prevent his mistake from impacting the game.
Shea Weber defeated that hope, taking a pass from Ryan Suter along the blue line and sliding to the right of the net, then firing a blast that Howard had no chance to stop with just under five minutes left in regulation.
The Wings attempted to regain a lead, attacking the Nashville net, but Rinne was able to prevent the Wings from capitalizing on their late chances before Howard made a final mistake. Playing the puck from behind his own net, he rimmed the puck along the boards, but the pass did not meet one of his own forwards, instead bouncing to Jordin Tootoo. The Predators forward sent the puck from the low boards up to Weber at the blue line, and Weber unloaded another shot past Rinne to take the lead with less than two minutes left.
The goal was initially credited to Nick Spaling, who had been driving to the net, but later review proved the puck had been redirected off the leg of Valtteri Filppula rather than the young forward's stick. With the crowd in Bridgestone Arena on their feet and cheering their team on, Rinne turned aside a finally flurry from the Wings, including a last second shot from Pavel Datsyuk, ending the night with 37 saves on 40 shots in the come from behind victory.