There was a big difference between the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings and expansion Nashville Predators on Wednesday night. If it wasn't for Mike Dunham, there would have been an even bigger difference.
Dunham faced 57 shots in the Nashville net, keeping the score a lot closer than the eventual 5-2 Detroit victory.
"We didn't stack up very well with them," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "We have to correct a lot of things. For two periods I don't think we competed at all. In the third we competed a little bit. They beat us in every aspect except the goaltending. He was fantastic."
Dunham was peppered with 57 shots, 27 in the second period alone.
"We had one guy who decided to show up tonight," said Nashville's Greg Johnson, who had a goal and an assist. "We played awful and they played tremendous. Maybe we respected them a little too much or were in awe of them. I don't know what it was, but we gave them too much room."
Doug Brown and Darren McCarty each scored two goals for the Red Wings.
Red-hot Brendan Shanahan scored his sixth goal in five games for the Red Wings, who have won four straight since an opening-game loss. It was Detroit's last game before the return of coach Scotty Bowman, who has been recovering from off-season angioplasty and knee replacement surgery.
Bowman, who was cleared to return by his doctors on Monday, will conduct practice Thursday and be back behind the bench Friday night when the Red Wings play host to Toronto.
"He's happy to be back and we're happy to have him back," said Barry Smith, wh, along with fellow assistant coach Dave Lewis, ran the team in Bowman's absence. "There's a lot of pressure with Scotty now that we're 4-1. We'll see how he is after five games."
Sergei Krivokrasov scored the other goal for the Predators in their first-ever meeting with the Red Wings.
Brown broke a 1-1 tie by converting a centering pass from Tomas Holmstrom 3:19 into the third period. McCarty made it 3-1 just 49 seconds later when he blasted a pass from Steve Yzerman past Dunham for his second goal of the night.
Krivakrasov scored at 7:58, but Shanahan ripped a shot from the right circle past Dunham on a power play to restore Detroit's two-goal lead at 10:20. Brown added another goal -- the 15,000th in franchise history -- with 3:21 remaining.
"We just left our goaltender high and dry," Nashville center Tom Fitzgerald said. "We have to learn from this. We play these guys five more times. We have to play much more aggressive hockey."
Chris Osgood, in net for all of Detroit's first five games, made 13 saves.
McCarty gave Detroit a 1-0 lead 14:35 into the game. Yzerman's cross-ice pass for Shanahan was blocked back to McCarty near the right circle, and he ripped a shot past Dunham for his second goal.
The Red Wings outshot the Predators 13-2 in the first period, and Dunham came up with several tough saves. He twice stopped Yzerman during a power play midway through the period and followed with a point-blank stop of Sergei Fedorov's shot just after the penalty ended.
The best of Dunham's 27 second-period saves thwarted a 3-on-1 break for Detroit. He gloved Jamie Macoun's shot and covered it up to keep the score 1-0.
"He played magnificently, obviously," Brown said of Dunham. "We had a lot of shots at him, and he kicked out everything. Then we finally got a few by him."
Osgood, meanwhile, faced just seven shots through the first 40 minutes. But the eighth shot created a 1-1 tie when Johnson, a former Red Wing, got loose with the puck to Osgood's right and slipped it behind him 1:04 into the third.
It was the first goal allowed in 142 minutes, 30 seconds by Osgood, who blanked Calgary 2-0 in his previous start.
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