NASHVILLE -- The early lead in any playoff game is a big deal, but particularly so in a series with defense-first teams like Detroit and Nashville.
The Red Wings got the fast start Friday night and rode that cushion to a 3-2 win over the Predators at Bridgestone Arena, evening the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series at 1-1.
Ian White and Cory Emmerton gave Detroit the early advantage, while Johan Franzen provided the eventual game-winner halfway through the second period. Goalkeeper Jimmy Howard made 24 saves.
Nashville pulled within a goal on Shea Weber's backhander with 4:44 remaining in the game but couldn't draw even. Andrei Kostitsyn beat Howard shortly after Weber's goal, but his wrister clanged off the goalpost.
Detroit took a page out of Nashville's book to grab a 2-0 lead after one period, getting goals from unexpected sources as the Predators did in capturing a 3-2 victory Wednesday night in Game 1.
White snapped a high slot wrist shot past Pekka Rinne at 8:25 off feeds from Tomas Holmstrom and Drew Miller. It was White's second career playoff goal in 19 games.
Emmerton made it a two-goal advantage at the 15:33 mark, blocking a Kevin Klein shot at the blue line, retrieving the puck and then zipping a wrister from the left faceoff circle through Rinne's stick side. Emmerton, who scored just six goals in 71 matches, was appearing in just his second playoff game.
Nashville buzzed the net for most of the second period, aided by 5 1/2 minutes of power play time during the period's first 6:04 as Jiri Hudler, Jonathan Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall took penalties. But its half-dozen shots on Howard failed to dent the net, sparking booing from its normally supportive crowd.
Kostitsyn fired up the audience at 9:01, beating Howard on a wrist shot to his glove side off assists from Alexander Radulov and David Legwand. But that momentum boost lasted all of 56 seconds.
Franzen tipped in Brad Stuart's shot from the left faceoff circle, the 38th career playoff goal for a man who makes his living fighting rush-hour traffic at the net's mouth, to restore a two-goal lead.
NOTES: Nashville D Hal Gill sat out for the second straight game with a lower-body injury, and his status for the rest of the series is unknown. ... Detroit's third-line center, Darren Helm, is done for the season after undergoing surgery Wednesday night at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to repair severed tendons in his forearm after being injured in the first period of Game 1. ... Country music star Vince Gill performed between the first and second periods, getting laughs from the sellout crowd when he started a chant of "Bertuzzi is a sissy," aimed at Red Wings RW Todd Bertuzzi. Aiming to send a message to Weber, who slammed Henrik Zetterberg's head into the glass as Game 1 ended and was fined $2,500 by the NHL, Bertuzzi fought Weber 96 seconds into the game.
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