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Vokoun makes 41 saves as Predators beat Wings 3-1 in first home playoff game

posted April 11 @ 20:27, EST

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tomas Vokoun made the Nashville Predators' first home playoff game in their six-year history a memory to savour.

Vokoun came up with 22 of his 41 saves in the third period and the Predators beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 Sunday for their first playoff victory, cutting Detroit's lead in the first-round series to 2-1.

David Legwand scored a short-handed goal, Adam Hall had a goal and an assist and Scott Hartnell scored an insurance goal for the Predators.

"Obviously, this is an important game," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "Detroit is a veteran team, and they wanted to put a nail in the coffin today, and we didn't let them. Hopefully, we can continue to make this a series."

The Predators started celebrating this historic moment by throwing a party outside the arena for their fans, and they had such stars as country singer Vince Gill on hand inside to mark the occasion.

The Red Wings looked ready to spoil the day as they outshot Nashville 15-1 in the first 15 minutes.

But Vokoun atoned for having the winning goal bounce in off his skate in Detroit's 2-1 victory Saturday with an outstanding performance in the Nashville goal.

"Vokoun played unbelievable," Detroit goalie Manny Legace said. "He stood on his head and stole the game."

He stopped Detroit early, and he was at his best in protecting Nashville's lead in the third period.

Brett Hull scored his first goal this post-season at 5:21 of the third period, but they got nothing else past Vokoun.

Vokoun stopped Hull twice at the net early in the period, and he had a kick save off Mathieu Schneider, who got credit for Saturday's winning goal.

Greg Johnson made the biggest save with Nashville leading 2-1 when he cleared the puck from the crease after it slipped through Vokoun's legs on a shot by Jiri Fischer from the blue-line.

Detroit forward Brendan Shanahan said Vokoun was the difference.

"Those weren't routine saves that he was making. A few of them he didn't even see the puck, so we're getting good traffic, getting good shots. (We've) just got to stick with it," Shanahan said.

Vokoun stopped short of calling it his best game.

"But it's more the timing of it, to get the first win for the team in the playoffs. The playoffs are fun, and I'm having a lot of fun," Vokoun said.

Game 4 will be Tuesday night in Nashville.

Manny Legace has been solid in goal for Detroit, giving up only two goals over the first 138 minutes of the series. Nashville finally got to him in the final two minutes of the first period.

With the Red Wings on the power play, Legwand, a Detroit native, stole a pass from Derian Hatcher just inside the zone. He skated down ice and scored his first playoff goal over Legace's right pad.

Hall, a native of Kalamazoo, Mich., got his second goal of the post-season minutes later, scoring from the right circle at 19:45 of the first period. That brought the fans to their feet for a standing ovation and a much-needed boost for Nashville.

"Anybody who was here felt the energy," Vokoun said. "The fans were unbelievable. It was the best moment since I've been in Nashville."

Hartnell capped the scoring when he squeezed the puck between Legace's left foot and the post off a perfect pass from Hall with 3:57 remaining. The Red Wings pulled Legace with 1:56 left, but Vokoun stopped Brendan Shanahan at the post in the final seconds.

Notes: Detroit went 0-for-5 on the power play and now is 1-for-15 in this series with the man advantage, compared to 0-for-12 for Nashville. . . . Five of Detroit's six goals in this series have come in the third period. . . . Detroit tied Tampa Bay for most short-handed goals in the regular season with 15. Nashville had 14 in a league where the average was 8.1 per team. . . . Hull now has 101 post-season goals, behind Jari Kurri (106) for third all-time.
http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/shownews.jsp?content=h041123A[/list]
 
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