DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings looked like a team determined to make the playoffs.
Darren Helm scored twice, and Pavel Datsyuk had a goal and an assist in Detroit’s 5-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Friday night. Tomas Holmstrom and Henrik Zetterberg also scored, and Jimmy Howard made 20 saves to help the eighth-place Red Wings move within three points of seventh-place Nashville.
Detroit was coming off a lethargic 6-3 home loss to Vancouver on Wednesday night.
“I thought we came out as a very determined team,” Helm said. “The other game, against Vancouver, we just sat back and didn’t do what we needed to do.”
J.P. Dumont and Joel Ward scored for Nashville, and Dan Ellis stopped 27 shots.
“We got down too early,” Ward said. “Too much, too early.”
Detroit led 2-0 after the first period.
Datsyuk opened the scoring at 7:44 with his 18th goal. The NHL leader in takeaways, Datsyuk stole the puck from Nashville defenceman Kevin Klein in front of the net, made a couple of moves and put a backhander under the crossbar.
“We gave them two free goals,” Predators’ coach Barry Trotz said. “The first goal and the fourth goal. Bad turnovers, bad mistakes.”
Holmstrom made it 2-0 with a power-play goal with 6 minutes left in the period. He put a deflected shot attempt by Nicklas Lidstrom into an empty net his 17th goal.
“I thought we were ready to play,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.
Helm scored twice in the first half of the second period. He beat Ellis with a wrist shot from the inside edge of the left circle at 3:35 and added a short-handed goal at 9:10 off his own rebound.
The play started at the Detroit blue-line when Niklas Kronwall poked the puck away from Steve Sullivan and passed to Helm who headed down the left wing. Ellis stopped his first shot but the rebound bounced over the stick of Nashville defenceman Ryan Suter and onto the stick of Helm, who backhanded the into the open net with Ellis out of position.
“The puck was bouncing,” Helm said. “I would have usually turned back on a penalty kill. But the puck was bouncing and it bounced over his stick and I’m by myself with an empty net.”
Helm has 10 goals this season.
Dumont put Nashville on the board 1:44 later, converting a cross-slot pass from the bottom of the left circle. It was Dumont’s 13th goal.
“They had a few lucky bounces,” Dumont said. “Good for them, bad for us.”
Ward made it 4-2, 3:15 into third period on one-time slap shot from the slot for his 13th goal.
Zetterberg added an empty-net goal in the final seconds.
NOTE: Detroit D Andreas Lilja played his third game after missing a year because of post concussion syndrome after a fight with Nashville’s Shea Weber last season. … The assist on Holmstrom’s goal was the 800th of Lidstrom’s career. … Canadian Olympic gold medal-winning ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir attended the game. They train in the Detroit area. … Weber, who won a gold medal with the Canadian Olympic team in Vancouver, left the game during the second period because of an upper-body injury. He was shaking his left hand the last time he came off the ice. Trotz said Weber will be re-evaluated on Saturday but didn’t think it was serious. Weber is day-to-day … Newly signed Detroit Lions defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch also was at the game.