By Amanda DiPaolo
Detroit Red Wings 31-13-6
Nashville Predators 27-18-7
Rinne will be back in net for Nashville Saturday night(Getty Images)
Nashville dropped its fourth straight decision on Thursday night when Philadelphia edged the Predators 3-2 at Wells Fargo Center. It was the third straight one-goal game for the Predators. Nashville, with 61 points, remains in the hunt for not only a playoff berth, but also home ice advantage. The Detroit Red Wings are one team in their way.
Saturday night marks the first of three visits Detroit will make to Bridgestone Arena before the end of the regular season. Nashville plays at Joe Louis Arena one more time this coming Wednesday.
The Predators losing streak comes at a time when the Predators are having a difficult time scoring goals. Nashville has scored six goals in the last four games and has not tallied more than two goals in any given match. The Predators need to regain some confidence as well as their offense. Nashville also needs to find a way to not win when they get a lead in the third period.
Pekka Rinne will be back in goal tonight for the Predators. Rinne was given the night off on Wednesday when Anders Lindback got the start against Philadelphia. Jimmy Howard was in goal for Detroit on Friday night against Columbus. Who Detroit will play in net on Saturday night has not be released.
The Predators remain without Steve Sullivan, Cal O’Reilly Matthew Lombardi, Marek Svatos and Francis Bouillon.
Like Nashville, Detroit has been hit with some significant injuries. Mike Modano is out indefinitely after having surgery on his right wrist. Brad Stuart had surgery on his jaw and is on injured reserve. Chris Osgood is out with a sports hernia. Tomas Holmstrom broke his hand and is out of the lineup.
There was speculation that Pavel Datsyuk would return to the lineup Friday night, but he did not play against Columbus. Datsyuk fractured his hand in a game against Vancouver. The Detroit News is reporting that Datsyuk will travel with the team to Nashville and playing Saturday night is a possibility.
Players to watch
Nashville – Shea Weber: Nashville’s captain has an active point streak of three games with one goal and two assists during that span. Weber has 17 points in his last 16 games. Weber has nine goals on the year, which ties him for sixth in goals and is tied at twelfth for points, with 32, among blueliners.
Detroit – Johan Franzen: On Wednesday, Franzen scored five goals against the Ottawa Senators. Franzen also leads the team in goals with 26 tallies on the season.
A new perspective
Before fans of the Nashville Predators start to panic over the team’s current four game losing skid, take a look at where the team was exactly at this point into the season a year ago. The Predators are 27-18-7 through 52 games. The 61 points collected by the Predators is the same number of points Nashville had after 52 games a season ago with a 29-20-3 record. Last year, the Predators ended the regular season with 100 points. When game 53 was over and done last year, Nashville had lost their fifth in a row but then went 18-8-3 to finish the season.
Including Saturday night’s contest, the Predators play 20 of the last 30 games at home where the team has gone 142-61-22 since the start of the 2005-06 season.
Not many tickets are left for the game Saturday night. Some are available, many single seats only. The game is sure to be a sellout, so call or visit the box office early to get your seat. Game time is 7 pm.
Are you looking for tickets to an upcoming Predators home game? Follow this link for discounted tickets. Make an account and then use the word Preds as the code for the discount.