DETROIT – The Nashville Predators almost spoiled Nicklas Lidstrom’s return to the Detroit Red Wings’ lineup.
Johan Franzen scored two power-play goals and the NHL-leading Red Wings held on for a 4-3 victory over the Predators on Sunday.
Lidstrom, who has won five of the last six Norris Trophies as the NHL’s top deafens, had two assists in his first game after missing six because of a knee injury.
“I felt good. It helped early on to be on the power play a lot and get a lot of ice time,” Lidstrom said. “You’re able to hold on to the puck a lot more and make plays. That helped me get used to the game speed … The knee feels well now. Tomorrow I’ll push it a little more. I don’t anticipate any problems.”
Detroit led 4-0 before Nashville, vying for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot, scored three times in the last 8:36 to make it close.
Shea Weber’s power-play goal spoiled Dominik Hasek’s shutout attempt with 8:36 left. Weber scored on a one-time slap shot from the high slot.
Martin Erat’s goal also came on the power play. He put one in from a goal-mouth scramble with 5:25 left, and Jordin Tootoo scored with goalie Chris Mason pulled for the extra attacker with 1:01 remaining.
“We came out in the third period and got our feet going,” the Predators’ Scott Nichol said.
Jiri Hudler and Brad Stuart also scored for the Red Wings, who had three power-play goals, and Niklas Kronwall had two assists. Hasek made 20 saves, including one on J.P. Dumont’s breakaway with 1:49 left.
“I think we know what went wrong in the third,” Stuart said. “We took our foot off the gas a little bit … We took a few penalties. That’s not going to help you.”
Mason stopped 29 shots.
Franzen opened the scoring with the Red Wings on a 5-on-3 power play at 8:43 of the first period. He tipped in Henrik Zetterberg’s pass while standing at the lip of the crease. Hudler made it 2-0 on another power-play score with 4:17 left in the period with a one-time shot from the bottom of the right circle. It was his 12th goal and first since Jan. 12, a span of 21 games.
Nashville took five of the six penalties in the first period.
“You don’t want to come in here and spend the whole first period in the penalty box,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “Too many penalties. Some were warranted and some weren’t.”
Stuart got his first goal as a Red Wing, with 4:39 left in the second period. With the teams playing 4-on-4, he scored on a backhand wraparound. It was the sixth goal of the season for the defenceman, acquired from Los Angeles at the trade deadline.
It was the first game that he has played with Lidstrom.
“He makes the game back there look so easy,” Stuart said. “And as a teammate, you see that and it gives you more confidence … It would take a while to tell all the things he does well.”
Franzen then got his second goal, also on the power play, when he tipped Lidstrom’s shot from the point out of the air. It was the first multi-goal game of Franzen’s career and his 16th of the season.
He was in position to score those goals because of the absence of Tomas Holmstrom, who missed the game because of a groin injury. Holmstrom is the usual net-front presence on the power play.
“He’s the best guy at it, so I watch him,” Franzen said.
Dan Cleary, who filled that role for the second power play unit for most of the season, is out with a broken jaw.
Notes: Nashville C David Legwand didn’t play because of a bruised foot. … The last time Detroit scored three power-play goals in a game was Dec. 15.