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Published: Saturday, 4/19/2008

Red Wings closing in; Franzen goal in OT backs Predators to wall

ASSOCIATED PRESS

DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators went through a range of emotions, and only one team liked the lasting feeling.

Johan Franzen scored 1:48 into overtime, lifting Detroit to a 2-1 win over Nashville and a 3-2 lead in their first-round series.

Valtteri Filppula, who scored Detroit's first goal, poked the puck away, and Franzen ended up with it and beat Dan Ellis with a backhander.

"One minute, you're on top of the world," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "The next minute, you feel real low."

The NHL's top-seeded team was less than a minute from winning in regulation, but Nashville's Radek Bonk slipped through the defense to get off a one-timer that got past Chris Osgood.

Osgood turned away 20 of 21 shots, validating Detroit coach Mike Babcock's decision to start him over Dominik Hasek. Game 6 in the best-of-seven series is tomorrow in Nashville.

Ellis kept the Predators in the pivotal game, making 52 saves before he was pulled for an extra skater.

"The biggest disappointment is we wasted that goaltending effort," Trotz said. "But we forced it to overtime when we probably didn't deserve it."

The Predators, who have lost all 10 postseason road games in franchise history, need to beat Detroit at home and then snap their skid as visitors in Game 7 to advance.

Filppula scored in the opening minutes, and the one-goal cushion looked like it was going to be enough for the Red Wings until Bonk silenced the crowd.

For nearly three periods, the Predators struggled to simply get shots to the net against an inspired team that hustled to poke pucks away and clogged the front of the net with their bodies.

Filppula scored his first goal of the playoffs at 4:20 of the first period.

He carried the puck to the left circle and got off a wrist shot that went over Ellis' left shoulder and popped in and out of the corner of the net. Niklas Kronwall and Franzen assisted on the goal.

Detroit appeared to play with a sense of urgency at both ends of the ice.

"We knew we were going to see a desperate team in Detroit," Trotz said.

The Red Wings sent shots and players at the net, taking

17 shots in the first period, 20 in the second, and 16 in the third. They scored on their only shot in overtime.

"Ellis played well, but we have to be better when we're around the net," Babcock said. "We had many, many opportunities."

They didn't give Nashville room to maneuver or shoot and effectively got in the way when the puck got anywhere near Osgood. Filppula helped out on defense, taking away a rebound opportunity from Martin Erat when he almost had a shot on an open net late in the first period.

"Some guys always say they need 35 shots, but I can play good getting 16 shots or 40 shots. I don't care," Osgood said.

Nashville had three power plays and had only one shot with an extra skater and had a total of 11 entering the third.

After planning to stick with Hasek throughout the playoffs, Babcock sat the six-time Vezina Trophy winner last night after pulling him in Game 4 after the Predators scored three times on 14 shots to help them earn a series-evening victory. Osgood had 13 saves in relief in Nashville.

Babcock said he was pleased with Osgood's performance.

"It's tough when the other guy is standing on his head and you're not getting a chance to make many saves," Babcock said. "But he gave us an opportunity to win."

NOTE: Nicklas Lidstrom played in his 197th postseason game for the Red Wings, breaking Steve Yzerman's franchise record.



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