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January 6, 2004 - Red Wings avenge Nov. collapse to Predators
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Red Wings avenge Nov. collapse to Predators

January 6, 2004

BY HELENE ST. JAMES
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER

Two goals in the first period, another goal in the second period, and then the third period equals what?

Monday night, it yielded satisfaction and absolution.

The Red Wings beat the Nashville Predators, 6-0, which might not sound like much considering the Wings lead the NHL standings and Nashville is in the middle.

Except that on Nov. 8, the Wings collapsed after building a 3-0 lead (two goals in the first period and one in the second) and gave up four goals in the third period and lost, 4-3. That game helped Nashville to a 3-0 series lead against the Wings entering Monday.

But there was no falling apart this time. Jason Woolley and Kris Draper each scored twice, Nick Lidstrom and Ray Whitney once each. Curtis Joseph was stellar again, and the Wings extended their home unbeaten streak to 12 games and their overall winning streak to four.

"Everyone was kind of pushing each other just to make sure we kept attacking, because this team has kind of given it to us pretty good," Draper said. "The big collapse two months ago -- those are things you don't forget. You want to go out and put together a strong effort and that's what we were able to do."

Joseph's 26 saves earned him his second shutout this season.

Short of an energetic shift from the Wings' Mathieu Dandenault-Mark Mowers-Boyd Devereaux line early, the Predators started with their usual suffocating style and prevented any solid scoring chances.

That changed at 7:34 when Steve Yzerman fired a pass from the right boards to Draper, who was unattended near the net. Before goalie Tomas Vokoun could react, Draper got the puck to his forehand and flicked it neatly into an open net. Draper's two goals gave him 18 for the season.

Just under 10 minutes later, the Wings scored again. To the gasping and almost disbelieving delight of the Joe Louis Arena faithful, Vokoun edged out of his crease to play the puck and didn't stop until he was tied up with Ray Whitney in the right corner. Whitney's stickwork got the puck to Brendan Shanahan, who passed it to Woolley.

Vokoun had retreated to his net, but wasn't in good enough position to challenge Woolley's high-flier from the right circle.

The Predators tried hard to dent the lead early in the second period -- at one point firing a barrage of shots at Joseph that he managed to deflect with stick, elbow and body, earning a rousing chorus of "Cu-jo!"

"It's almost like they tried to put us to sleep a little bit in the first period," coach Dave Lewis said. "We had patience, and I thought Curtis made some timely saves, and then we started to get going a bit."

At 9:42, Lidstrom beat Vokoun to the glove side on a power play. The Predators finally got a power play of their own at 16:40 of the second period, but who could tell?

When Detroit's second penalty-killing unit came on, Chris Chelios, Jiri Fischer, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk set up in Nashville's zone as if they were the ones with the advantage. Chelios even got off a shot, and although Vokoun easily blocked it with his pads, the point was made. The Wings weren't about to allow another letdown.