Trailing 3-0 early in the second period, Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock didn’t like what he saw from his club and called timeout.
Whatever he said worked to perfection.
Detroit scored four straight goals to end the game, including Dan Cleary’s overtime winner as the Red Wings stunned the Predators, 4-3, and clinched their 20th straight postseason appearance. That streak is the longest of any team in the four major North American professional leagues.
Penalties nearly killed the Wings, who needed a win to hold off the closing Predators. Detroit led Nashville by just four points in the Central Division and a a win in regulation would have sealed the Predators out of the race.
Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn beat Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard less than a minute apart early in the second period to give Nashville a 3-0 lead. Babcock then called his timeout, putting just a few players on the bench while most of the team stood on the ice and listened.
Moments later, Jakub Kindl beat Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne with a bit of a fluky shot to get the Wings on the board. A little over a minute later, Justin Abdelkader redirected Brad Stuart’s shot over Rinne to cut the lead to 3-2.
Abdelkader struck again in the third, one-timing a pass from Todd Bertuzzi past Rinne to knot the score. Then in overtime, Cleary tipped Brian Rafalski’s shot through Rinne to seal the comeback.
The Red Wings came back despite working against themselves all night, taking 11 total penalties in the game. Three were for delay of game for shooting the puck over the glass, and Todd Bertuzzi and Shane O’Brien fought each other twice in what felt like a playoff game.