USA TODAY US Edition
Predators win opener vs. Red Wings
Rookie Bourque scores two goals
NASHVILLE — As the final seconds wound down, Nashville Predators players were desperately trying to keep the puck out of their net and the Detroit Red Wings were desperately trying to score.
So it was no surprise to see tempers flare just after Nashville’s 3-2 victory Wednesday in Game 1, with Predators defenseman Shea Weber and Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg tangling up in the corner.
Weber said Zetterberg hit him in the back, and Weber then appeared to retaliate by taking a couple high shots at Zetterberg, driving Zetterberg’s head into the glass on the second occasion. “It’s playoffs,” Weber said. Was Weber fearful of discipline by the NHL?
“I don’t know,” he said. “He hit me from behind. So we’ll see. I don’t know.”
Said Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom, who was on the ice at the time, “We’ll see what happens. It looked like (Weber) jammed his head into the glass.”
The incident finished off a game in which the Predators got their goals in non-aesthetically pleasing ways to take a 1-0 series lead against the Red Wings for the time time in the teams’ playoff history.
“We had a little bit of fortune,” coach Barry Trotz said. “We threw pucks to the net, and they went in. We need to do more of that.”
Gabriel Bourque scored twice. Matt Halischuk crossed over the Detroit blue line and threw what appeared to be a fairly harmless shot toward the net, but Bourque redirected the puck past Howard in midair to put the Predators up 2-1.
“I was just trying to make some space for Halischuk and drive through,” Bourque said. “When he shot, I didn’t even see it hit my stick. It’s not something I really tried to do, but it went in and I’ll take it.”
Said Predators defenseman Ryan Suter, “It’s one game. You have to learn from your mistakes you made throughout the game and be ready to go for the next game, because you know they have a great team over there. They’re going to come at us.”
Trotz said Weber was retaliating for Zetterberg’s initial shot, adding he saw Detroit forward Todd Bertuzzi land a shot on Paul Gaustad.
“Zetterberg hit him in the head first,” Trotz said. “It wasn’t much there. I mean, I was watching the scrum right after that with Bertuzzi and Gaustad, and Bertuzzi comes in with a big-time haymaker. I watched the first one, I just think Zetterberg was getting tired at the end and knew Webs was there and the game was over.”
Zetterberg did not speak to the news media, and Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said he hadn’t yet seen a good replay of the incident.
Addressing the issue of any effect the hit might have had on Zetterberg, general manager Ken Holland told the Detroit Free Press, “I believe Z is OK.”