By Kate Hedlin
Nashville (39-33-8) at Detroit (51-19-9) 7:30 p.m. EDT
DETROIT (AP) — When they faced the Detroit Red Wings just 10
days ago, the Nashville Predators were in seventh place in the
Western Conference. They’ve since fallen to the verge of missing
the postseason altogether.
With time running out, the slumping Predators try to help their
fading playoff hopes when they visit the Red Wings on Thursday.
On March 29, Nashville (39-33-8) beat Detroit (51-19-9) for the
third time this season, winning 4-3 to take a one-point lead
over St. Louis for seventh in the conference. The Predators also
were still in contention for sixth place, sitting two points
Since then, however, Nashville has gone 1-3-0 to drop into ninth
place with only two games remaining. The Predators are two
points behind Anaheim and St. Louis for one of the final two
playoff spots in the conference.
“Our guys are not going to quit until the end,” coach Barry
Trotz said after Nashville’s 4-2 loss to Chicago on Tuesday. “We
have a daunting task at Detroit. Hopefully, we will take care of
business there and go on to Minnesota and take care of business.
We also need a little bit of luck.”
Trotz’s team is looking to bounce back after a frustrating loss
to the Blackhawks. The Predators gave up three goals in the
second period – two in the first 50 seconds – after Vernon
Fiddler had put them ahead in the first.
“We were in stun mode for a bit there,” Trotz said. “That might
be the worst 38 seconds of the year.”
Jason Arnott scored his 30th goal of the season 3:29 into the
third period to cut the deficit to one, but Nashville gave up an
empty-net goal to put the game out of reach.
The Predators have reached the postseason the last four years.
The Red Wings, meanwhile, also need some luck if they have any
chance at catching San Jose for the best record in the West.
They are six points behind the Sharks with three games
Detroit has improved its play recently, winning two straight
after losing four of five. It is coming off a 3-1 win at Buffalo
The Red Wings scored three times in the third period of that
victory, including two goals from Marian Hossa, who reached the
40-goal mark for the third time in his career.
Hossa wasn’t the only Red Wings player to reach a notable
plateau. Chris Osgood made 32 saves to earn his 389th career
victory and tie Dominik Hasek for 10th on the NHL list. Nicklas
Lidstrom, meanwhile, scored an empty-netter for his 227th career
goal, moving him into a tie with Kevin Hatcher and Steve
Duchesne for 12th among NHL defensemen.
“We seem to have found our way,” coach Mike Babcock said. “We’ve
got a proud group. We’ve got good leadership. I think they said,
‘Enough’s enough, let’s get playing again.'”
Hossa has especially picked up his game. He has five points in
the last two wins after tallying one goal and an assist during
the previous five games.
After Thursday, the Red Wings play a home-and-home series with
Chicago beginning Saturday.
“These are difficult games,” Osgood said. “Everybody we seem to
be playing of late seem to be on the brink of making (the
playoffs) or fighting somebody else for a playoff spot. It’s
good games for us going into the playoffs. It gets us as
playoff-ready as possible.”