Nashville Predators defenseman Greg de Vries (7) skates by the Detroit Red Wings as they celebrate the goal by Tomas Holmstrom in the third period of Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinal hockey playoffs in Detroit, Saturday, April 12, 2008. From left are defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom (5) of Sweden, Brian Rafalski, Tomas Holmstrom and Henrik Zetterberg (40) of Sweden. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Carlos Osorio
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The scenery and home-ice advantage has changed. The Nashville Predators' opinions on the officiating haven't, even as coach Barry Trotz insists they're not stewing over what they can't control.
Detroit grabbed a 2-0 lead at home in the Western Conference quarter-finals, leaving the Predators fuming about some calls and non-calls.
The winning goal in Game 1? An uncalled offsides in the Predators' view. Then they had a goal disallowed at the start of the Red Wings' 4-2 win Saturday and believed interference should have erased a goal that gave Detroit the lead. A day later, Trotz still thinks Nashville lost a goal it scored.
"I'm more disappointed in the league not getting it right," he said.
"The one reviewable way out of it is to say they blew the whistle. On audio, the whistle didn't go until the net basically hit the back end boards, so to me it's just from that standpoint we can get it right. That's all. That wasn't in our control, so we go forward."
Easier said than done for a team needing a win to avoid being swept for the first time in its playoff history.
The Predators have been in this situation before, coming home trailing Detroit 2-0. In 2004, they won twice at home to force a sixth game before losing to Detroit. On Monday night, they might have some much needed offensive help in centre David Legwand for Game 3.
Legwand has not played since March 7 after taking a shot off his left foot that still had him in a walking boot Sunday. But Trotz said Legwand, who had 44 points in 65 games, will be a game-time decision for a team outscored 7-3 in this series.
The Predators also are glad to be back home, where fans have provided a strong emotional boost for this team this season. Defenceman Shea Weber said they realize what they're facing.
"We kind of have our backs up against the wall. We're looking at this game like it's do or die. It's not the end of the world, but we don't want to go down 0-3 to a team like that," Weber said.
The Red Wings, who have gotten balanced scoring and strong goaltending from Dominik Hasek, will be ready.
"It's going to be, by far, the toughest game yet," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.
Detroit has clamped down on Nashville's top scorers so far. Jordin Tootoo, known for his physical hits and ability to draw penalties, has a team-best two goals. Captain Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont, who each had 72 points in the regular season, have combined for four shots through two games.
Arnott said he realizes the spotlight is on him and Dumont and that it's been tough playing against Detroit's top defencemen, Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski.
"Their top two D seem to be out there all the time against us. We have to persevere. We have to push forward. We have had some chances to score and didn't put the puck in the net. If one of those went in, it would relieve a little bit of the pressure and give us more confidence," he said.
The Red Wings aren't ready to claim victory. Center Kris Draper remembers last year when the Red Wings went up 2-0 over Calgary only to be forced to double overtime in Game 6 before clinching the series.
"All we've done is put ourselves in a situation where we're halfway there," Draper said. "We really haven't done anything yet."
These teams are close enough that the Red Wings practised in Detroit before flying to Nashville later Sunday. Their fans will be well represented Monday night.
"Usually their building doesn't sell out, but it's always sold out when we come to town and they're ready for us," Hasek said of the rivalry between these Central Division teams.
The Predators had to go 5-0-1 to clinch the last playoff berth, and Trotz said that his players have proven this season they're mentally tough and resilient enough to shake off the calls they feel they should have gotten.
"We're fine. We know it's going to be a long series. We're going to make it a long series. That's our goal," he said.