Detroit Red Wings 43-20-8
Nashville Predators 36-25-10
The Red Wings visit Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night for the second of three games this season. It is also the fifth of six contests between the two clubs.
Both the Red Wings and the Predators have been hot as of late. Detroit is 6-2-2 in their last 10 games and are currently on a four-game winning streak. After losing four games in a row, Nashville has gone 5-2-2 in their last 9 games.
The Predators are coming off a huge 4-3 overtime win against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night. Falling behind 3-2 early in the third period, Nashville tied the game and won in the overtime period, the first time this season the Predators won in overtime.
Head Coach Barry Trotz said it was a huge two points. “They don’t lose too many times in the third period when they have a lead. Being a little bit shorthanded, guys stepped up. It was just a real character win.”
The Bruins rarely lose on the road, too, with a 23-9-5 record on the road, tops in the Eastern Conference. Now, just two days after the win, the Predators host the best road team in the Western Conference with a 24-9-4 road record.
If Nashville is going to come out on top, they’ll need another character win — and all players will need to show up for a full 60 minutes.
Sergei Kostitsyn’s tally Thursday night snapped a goal scoring drought at the perfect time. Last time Detroit was in Nashville, Pekka Rinne picked up his 18th career shutout in a 3-0 whitewash of the Wings. Kostitsyn led the offense with two goals. Nashville will be looking for Kostitsyn to get hot again– helping to propel the team into the post season.
Nashville has picked up a point in six straight games at home against the Red Wings with a 4-0-2 record since the start of the 2008-09 season. The Predators have outscoring Detroit 19-7 in those six home games, but their success has just as much to do with defense as it does with offense.
Nashville’s penalty kill has been perfect in the last three games against Detroit and have killed 16-of-17 Red Wing power plays off this season.
There are several question marks for Detroit’s lineup against the Predators, according to TSN. Pavel Datsyuk has a lower body injury and is listed as questionable for Saturday night.
Datsyuk has played in 52 games against Nashville and has 16 goals and 38 assists for 54 points.
Ruslan Salei is listed as doubtful to be in the lineup against the Predators. His wife had a baby on Wednesday, but lives in California. The Detroit News said the team wasn’t sure Salei would be back for the weekend match.
Jiri Hudler is listed as doubtful with an illness.
Good news for Detroit fans is that Brian Rafalski is probable to return to the lineup against Nashville. Rafalski was out of the lineup with a right knee injury.
As for Nashville, Trotz said it was possible Joel Ward would play on Saturday. Word of Ward’s status should be known after morning skate Saturday at Bridgestone Arena.
This season, the Red Wings won their first meeting but the Predators have won the last three outings. The only time in franchise history that Nashville recorded four consecutive wins against Detroit was between February 28 and November 23, 2009.
Detroit sits comfortably in first place in the Central Division and Nashville will be trying to break the top 8 in the Western Conference. A win by Nashville would put the Predators in sole possession of a playoff position for the first time in weeks. If the Predators lose in overtime and Anaheim wins, Nashville will again be on the outside looking in due to Anaheim have played less games.
Saturday night’s match also marks Jordin Tootoo’s 400th career NHL game.
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