By Josh Cooper | The Tennessean
With the Predators, it's about previous experiences and lessons in heartache.
A late-game power play with a one-goal lead brings up memories of losing two years ago in the playoffs. A waved-off score rekindles thoughts of missed opportunities in pivotal games.
After Tuesday's 3-1 win over the Red Wings in Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinals -- a victory that gave the Predators a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series -- most of that is in the past. All that remains is finishing the job on Friday.
"That's what this team does, learning from the mistakes and learning from experience," forward Martin Erat said. "We have good enough leadership in here (that) it's not going to happen again, and we did a great job out there."
Erat notched the game-winning assist when he drew three defenders and the goaltender to him, then fired a pass to a wide-open Kevin Klein in front of the goal. All Klein had to do was shoot the puck into an empty net with 13:35 left in the third period to put Nashville up 2-1.
The victory gave the Predators a stranglehold on the series against a team they couldn't beat in two previous playoff meetings.
And before this series, the Predators had never defeated the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena in the postseason. They now have two such wins.
David Legwand scored the game-icing goal with 38.9 seconds left on a power play. It was a similar situation to Game 5 in Chicago two years ago when the Blackhawks scored shorthanded in the final 15 seconds to force overtime. The Blackhawks went on to win that game and the series.
This time Nashville played to win.
"Along the road with any franchise, you go through a lot of hard lessons," Coach Barry Trotz said. "We learned our lesson. This is sort of a new group."
The Predators absorbed shot after shot -- 41 to be specific -- but unlike past Nashville teams they were able to score opportunistically.
They also have a goaltender capable of making 40 stops in Pekka Rinne. Detroit couldn't find an answer for Nashville's netminder.
"You've got to continue to get pucks at the net," Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "You can't shy away from that. I think we've got to get even more traffic in front and get some of those second chances. We talked about that, but he's playing real well for them. We have to score some goals."
Reach Josh Cooper