For the first time since 2006, the Detroit Red Wings lost in the opening round of the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. A third period goal from the Nashville Predators broke a tie, and held up as the game-winner in a 2-1 victory on Friday night.
Detroit struggled to create scoring chances throughout the game and went 0-2 on the power play. When the Wings did manage to get a shot on goal, they found it incredibly difficult to beat Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, who turned away 22 shots and allowed just one goal.
David Legwand broke the tie just 13 seconds in the third period. Alexander Radulov fed the puck into Detroit's zone, and Gabriel Borque skated in on Jimmy Howard. The puck bounced backward where Legwand found it and flicked it in with the slightest wrist shot.
Facing elimination and a one-goal deficit in the second period of Game 5 against the Nashville Predators, the Detroit Red Wings battled back. A solid performance from goalie Jimmy Howard and a goal from Jiri Hudler with just over six minutes play in the second period made it a 1-1 tie heading into the third period.
Henrik Zetterberg put the puck in crease with 6:15 left in the second. Hudler was there to poke it in the net for his second goal of the series. That was one of two scoring chances for Hudler in the period, and arguably the two best scoring chances for Detroit.
Howard stopped eight shots on goal, and the Red Wings killed a Predators power play after Tomas Holmstrom was called for tripping on Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne.
Following Friday's morning skate, Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz announced that hulking 6-foot-7 blue liner, Hal Gill was not going to dress for Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Gill has yet to play in a game this series.
On Thursday, Gill participated in his first full practice session with the team since being removed from the lineup with a lower-body injury. Trotz was optimistic at the time that Gill may be able to return.
"He skated the whole practice and he felt pretty good," Trotz said (via the Predators official website). "We will see where he is tomorrow. That’s really his call."
Ultimately, Gill decided that it would be best if he sat out Game 5. He last played on April 5 in the team's second to last game of the season against the Dallas Stars.
Despite Gill's absence, the Predators have handled the Red Wings just fine, currently holding a 3-1 series lead. If the Wings are unable to pull one out on Friday night in Nashville, their season will effectively be over.