Final

Detroit won 4-2 (Game 5 of 6)

Detroit won 4-2

Game 1: Wednesday, April 7th
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Red Wings3
Game 2: Saturday, April 10th
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Red Wings2
Game 3: Sunday, April 11th
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Predators3
Game 4: Tuesday, April 13th
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Predators3
Game 5: Thursday, April 15th
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Red Wings4
Game 6: Saturday, April 17th
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Predators0

7:30 PM ET, April 15, 2004

Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan

1 2 3 T
NSH 0 1 01
DET 3 1 04

P. Datsyuk (Red Wings - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

H. Zetterberg (Red Wings - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

N. Lidstrom (Red Wings - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Detroit scores twice in first seven minutes

DETROIT (AP) -- The Nashville Predators paid the price for giving the Detroit Red Wings time and space to make plays.

Pavel Datsyuk's dazzling passes set up two goals before seven minutes elapsed and the Red Wings went on to beat the Predators 4-1 Thursday night to take a 3-2 series lead.

"When you have the lead, you force them to take chances," said Brendan Shanahan, who gave Detroit a 3-0 lead in the first period. "In the other games, they had the lead and were able to just sit back and protect."

The home team has won each game in the first-round, best-of-seven series and the Predators hope to keep up the trend in Game 6 Saturday in Nashville.

Henrik Zetterberg, Brett Hull and Shanahan scored in the first period for the Red Wings, who are determined to avoid a second straight first-round flop after another successful regular season.

After Nicklas Lidstrom's power-play goal midway through the second period made it 4-0, Nashville's Sergei Zholtok scored on the power play with 37.2 seconds left in the period.

That made Hull's goal the game-winner, his 24th in the playoffs, tying the NHL record set by Wayne Gretzky. Hull turned down two interview requests to comment on the milestone.

Detroit's Curtis Joseph made 19 saves in his first playoff start since the Red Wings were swept by Anaheim in the first round last season. Joseph, who has been hobbled with an ankle injury for much of the season, replaced Manny Legace.

When Dominik Hasek ended his one-year retirement last summer, the Red Wings tried to trade Joseph. Later, Hasek had a season-ending groin injury and the team decided it wanted to keep Joseph, who then went down with an ankle injury. Legace, a career backup, then became the unlikely No. 1 goaltender.

"It has been a different year, no question," Joseph said.

Tomas Vokoun made 27 saves, but many came after Detroit took control.

Vokoun stopped 82 of 83 shots in Games 3 and 4 as Nashville evened the series with two wins at home. The Predators went nearly 78 minutes without giving up a goal before Detroit's first-period flurry.

"If we try to play a skill game, they're going to beat us 10 out of 10 times," Vokoun said.

The Red Wings -- playing with a sense of urgency -- scored on their first, fourth and ninth shots. They did not score in the first period in the first four games.

Mathieu Schneider said Detroit tried to start the game as if it was overtime.

"Without a doubt, that was the mentality we had," he said.

It took nearly eight minutes before Nashville forced Joseph to make a save, and the Predators didn't generate many scoring chances the rest of the game.

With relentless pressure all over the ice, the pesky Predators had stymied Detroit's talent-laden team for the most part -- until Game 5.

Datsyuk made a no-look, between-the-legs pass to Zetterberg, who went across the crease and flipped a backhander over a sprawled-out Vokoun at 3:19 of the first. About three minutes later, Datsyuk and Zetterberg cycled the puck along the left boards before Datsyuk's centering pass led to Hull's goal.

"I thought Pavel was dangerous," Detroit coach Dave Lewis said.

In a short-handed situation from behind the net, Shanahan's shot went off defenseman Dan Hamhuis' skate and got past Vokoun at 13:18 of the first.

The Red Wings were 1-for-21 on the power play before Lidstrom's slap shot from the left circle gave them a 4-0 lead. The crowd then mockingly chanted: "Vo-koun! Vo-koun!"

"I don't think we had as much resolve, composure and discipline as they did," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "And we didn't use our biggest asset, that's our ability to skate.

"If we give them time and space, they are going to do what they did."

Zholtok's goal snapped Nashville's 0-for-22 drought on the power play.

Game notes


Nashville's standout defenseman Marek Zidlicky, a key player on the power play, has not played since leaving Game 1 with what the team will only say is an "upper-body injury." The Predators are hopeful he will play Saturday. ... If necessary, Game 7 will be Monday in Detroit. ... Hull's second goal of the series was his 102nd in the playoffs. He trails only Jari Kurri (106), Mark Messier (109) and Gretzky (122) in NHL history. ... Joseph's career postseason record is 59-62.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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