It wasn’t his best game ever, but it was his first NHL playoff win.
Nashville Predators goaltender Dan Ellis stopped 23 of 26 shots in a 5-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings in the third game of the Western Conference Stanley Cup quarterfinals.
“We made some great plays and we got some huge goals at the end,” Ellis said. “We didn’t want to go down 3-0. We believe in each other. We have shown our character all the way through the season.
“It was big to get my first NHL playoff win. It wasn’t one of my best games. But the team really came out and played.”
Ellis admitted the most frustrating part of the game was the third period goal by Detroit center Pavel Datysuk 40 seconds into the third period.
“It is tied 2-2 and you want to get a good push into the third period,” Ellis said. “You want to get a good start in the third, but they came out a little quicker and got a good bounce.
“Detroit has a great transition game. That is something we have to guard against. They attack really well. They have great speed up front. Their defensemen make great outlet passes. We have to be cautious.”
Predators coach Barry Trotz did not blame Ellis for any of the goals that were scored against him.
“I thought we did a better job on Detroit as a team in taking away some of their offense,” Trotz said. “We cut down on their shot total. Dan was really solid.”
SHINING MOMENT: Trotz has often talked of a moment or an event that could change the momentum of a series. He thinks that the third-period goals by Ryan Suter and Jason Arnott nine seconds apart could be such an event, but he won’t know until the end of the series.
“There are moments than can happen that can change a whole series,” Trotz said. “I don’t know if we just had it. When the series is over we might look back and say that was the moment. It was huge. This group has a lot of resiliency.
“But we haven’t done anything. We have won one hockey game. We are still in the hole.”
THE SEVENTH MAN: The Predators often refer to the fans as the “seventh man” and there is a banner hanging from the rafters commemorating them. They did their job Monday night, especially in the crucial third period.
“The crowd really gave us that extra push…that extra guy out there,” said Arnott. “When we get down, we push that much harder. The crowd gave us the extra push and energy that we needed to come back and win the game.”
ARNIE TAKES A HIT: The hardest Predators center Jason Arnott was hit was by teammate Alexander Radulov. When Arnott scored the fourth goal of the game, Radulov, known for his emotions on the ice, got a little carried away and knocked Arnott down in celebration.
“It was something special,” Radulov said. “I’m always excited when we score goals. I saw him jump so I thought I would jump too. Otherwise he might have landed on me and both of us would have fallen down. I guess I owe him an apology for knocking him down.”