NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Detroit Red Wings' anger over the NHL's refusal to suspend Shea Weber still simmered Friday. So it was important they regained the respect the league took away by shrugging its shoulders when Weber smashed Henrik Zetterberg's head against the glass at the conclusion of Game 1, treating it as an acceptable part of hockey.
Well, another acceptable part of the sport is the deliverance of frontier justice.
Not even two minutes into Game 2, Todd Bertuzzi went after Weber. The exchange happened early enough it wouldn't necessarily hurt either team. They merely exercised the customary hockey payback dance. Both landed punches. Both got five minutes in the box. But the symbolism was what mattered.
The Wings let the Predators -- and all other future playoff foes -- know that they wouldn't let cheap shots go without some form of retaliation.
The fight pumped some emotion into the Wings, and Bertuzzi certainly earned himself a sizeable amount of goodwill from his teammates and the overall Hockeytown community. But it wouldn't have mattered so much if the Wings hadn't responded with two quick goals in the first period. The only tale of the tape that matters right now is that this grudge match is now tied after successive 3-2 outcomes.
"I thought it was important that we sent a message that we're not going to take that," captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "Bert did a great job. But the most important thing was that we took care of the most important business of the night, and that was getting this series tied heading back to Detroit."
Some players were surprised by Bertuzzi's actions.
"It's not something we talked about," defenseman Brad Stuart said. "We talked about just playing the game and not letting any of that nonsense affect us. But I thought that Bert did a great job of not putting us at a disadvantage simply for the sake of a vendetta."
The fight coincided with a Johan Franzen crosschecking penalty that put the Predators on the power play, but they were without Weber's blistering shot so the timing actually benefited the Wings.
"He had to do the right thing and he did," coach Mike Babcock said. "I thought it was important for our team that it happened."
Bertuzzi dismissed the fracas as "just hockey." "It's something you've got to do," he said. "You've got to stick up for your teammates and do stuff like that."
It's what frustrates some North American hockey purists about the Wings. They want more emotion, more of a vindictive streak when physically challenged. But the Wings usually are intent on letting the scoreboard fight their battles for them.
That's fine on most occasions, but Weber's act warranted a little street justice.
Nashville actually played the better first period after the skirmish. But whereas in Game 1, those happenstance incidents that worked against the Wings ricocheted in their favor in Game 2. It infuriates devotees that many consider the sport's premise as an accident waiting to happen. But the breaks worked in the Wings' favor and they're not about to complain, after believing they deserved a better Game 1 fate.
They got even Friday . . . in more ways than one.