Filppula and Howard shine as Red Wings dominate Predators
The pressure was on for the Red Wings tonight as they played the Predators in Nashville. Division standings, conference standings and an already lackluster season performance on the road did not prevent them from getting the job done.
The Wings looked great on both sides of the ice during the first period. Valtteri Filppula's first period goal gave the team much needed motivation as Nashville didn't answer until the end of the third. By then, the Wings were already up 4-1.
Detroit didn't let up in the second period as goals from Pavel Datsyuk and Danny Cleary contributed to their dominance. A fourth goal in the third, Filppula's second of the night, sealed the deal on a victory that was well earned.
Nashville would not go away so quietly though, as Jonathon Blum scored with less than three minutes left in regulation.
It took away the possibility of a shut out, but Jimmy Howard performed well all night, with 31 saves and a .969 save percentage. This includes being part of five penalty kills throughout the night. Neither team converted on their power plays though.
It was an important win for the Wings and showed continued success from what fans have seen as of late from the team. The third line (Cleary, Miller and Helm) made a solid and worthwhile contribution. Filppula continues to be the most consistent player on offense. And Jimmy Howard is leaving critics with less and less to worry about.
Detroit put less shots on goal and won less faceoffs than the Predators, but their intelligent attacks on the net as well as well played passing put them at an advantage.
They are going to need more of this as they take on division rivals, St. Louis, who is ranked right above them.