NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, April 2nd (All times eastern)
Detroit Red Wings (44-23-10) at Nashville Predators (42-26-10), 3 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A few weeks ago it appeared that the Detroit Red Wings were ready to cruise to another Central Division title, but the surging Nashville Predators have made a race of it by posting wins in seven of their last eight trips to the ice.
Detroit will try to slow the Predators' momentum this afternoon, when the clubs meet at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena.
However, the Red Wings, who are four points ahead of the Preds, have lost four straight to Nashville since winning the opener of this season series back on Oct. 30. The clubs last met on March 19 and the Predators recorded a 3-1 victory on home ice.
All told, the Red Wings and Predators have split the last 10 regular-season meetings and Detroit has dropped four of its last six in the Music City.
Detroit does have a game in hand over the Preds with five tests left in the regular season compared to four for Nashville. The Red Wings can clinch a playoff berth with a point today or if Dallas loses in regulation this afternoon in Los Angeles.
The Red Wings will also be aiming to rebound from an embarrassing loss today, after getting slammed by the visiting St. Louis Blues, 10-3, on Wednesday night. It marked the first time the Red Wings had surrendered 10 goals since October 9, 1993, when they dropped a 10-3 decision against Los Angeles.
"Today we got outworked. Today we were a disgrace. You just got to go home and forget about it, come back home and regroup," Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg said.
Zetterberg, Mike Modano and Todd Bertuzzi lit the lamp for the Red Wings, who have lost two in a row and five of six overall.
Joey MacDonald, who was making his second straight start for an injured Jimmy Howard, turned aside 32-of-39 shots before being pulled. Thomas McCollum, the 30th overall pick in the 2008 draft, took over in net and stopped 5-of-8 shots in his NHL debut.
Howard is expected to return to the crease today after battling a left shoulder injury, but forward Pavel Datsyuk will likely miss his seventh straight contest with a lower-body issue. Datsyuk, who has 22 goals and 57 points this year, last played on March 17 in Columbus.
Detroit has a 20-13-6 record as the visiting team this season and has lost four of its last six games as the guest.
The Predators enter today's action tied with Los Angeles for the fifth seed in the West, but Nashville is just two points ahead of Chicago for the conference's eighth and final playoff berth.
Nashville won for the ninth time in 11 games on Thursday, posting a close regulation win in Colorado. Martin Erat notched the game-winner late in the third period and the Predators hung on for the 3-2 decision at Pepsi Center.
Colin Wilson and Jordin Tootoo also scored for the Predators, while Pekka Rinne made 27 stops for the win.
"We did not play well in the third. This was still a huge win for us, but we played smart earlier on to get this two points for us," Rinne said.
Today's important test marks the first portion of a three-game homestand for the Preds, who are 22-9-7 as the host this year. Nashville had won five in a row at Bridgestone Arena before losing this past Tuesday to Vancouver.
04/02 10:56:43 ET