The game started when the puck dropped Wednesday.
The Western Conference quarterfinal series between the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings effectively got underway when the final horn sounded, though. That’s when Nashville defenseman and captain Shea Weber slammed Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg in the back of the head and into the boards, an act that touched off additional pushing and shoving between almost every other player on the ice, most notably Paul Gaustad of the Predators and Todd Bertuzzi of the Red Wings.
Nashville won 3-2 and took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven set.
“Both teams are battling to score a goal or to not allow a goal,” Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter said. “It’s just part of playing. That’s just part of when you play games. That’s how it is — you go out and play hard and stuff happens.”
Weber was assessed a penalty for roughing on the play. He scoffed at the idea that he might be subject to supplemental discipline from the league office.
“It’s the playoffs,” Weber said. “He hit me from behind. So we’ll see. I don’t know.”
Weber’s penalty was the 10th called against Nashville in a game that featured 14 power plays and two power-play goals, the first by Zetterberg.
“Zetterberg hit him in the head first,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “There wasn’t much there. … I just think Zetterberg was getting tired at the end, he knew Webs was there and the game was over.”
• Deep cut: Detroit center Darren Helm missed the final 10 games of the regular season with a knee injury but was in the lineup for the start of the postseason. He played just six shifts and 3:08 before a cut forearm forced him out of action and to a local hospital, where he had surgery.
“We don’t know to what extent or how severe [he was cut],” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “If any tendons or anything were cut, we don’t know, but it was pretty severe. As soon as it happened he skated right to the bench.”
• Waiting, watching: Defenseman Hal Gill’s status for the remainder of the series remains undetermined.
Gill was scratched from Game 1 with a lower body injury. Trotz said he expected the veteran defenseman would be a game-time decision, but then Gill did not even participate in the pre-game skate.
“We’ll see where he is [Thursday],” Trotz said. “He wasn’t good enough [Wednesday] so we’ll see where he is [Thursday] and we’ll evaluate it every 24 hours.
“He’s a warrior so I hope he gets back.”
• Briefly: The Predators were outshot 37-26, including 32-13 over the final two periods. … Gaustad scored Nashville’s first goal — his first career playoff goal in his 39th career playoff game. … Goalie Pekka Rinne earned his ninth playoff win for Nashville. Three other goalies won a total of six games in four playoff appearances. … Six of the Predators’ last seven playoff games have been decided by a single goal.