NASHVILLE, Tenn. – One team looked to be gearing up for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, while the other’s playoff aspirations were all but dashed.
Johan Franzen’s third-period goal broke a tie and sent the Detroit Red Wings to a 6-3 victory over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.
Niklas Kronwall, Chris Chelios, and Brian Rafalski each scored second-period goals for the Red Wings, and Pavel Datsyuk added an insurance tally late in the third.
Dominik Hasek earned his 385th NHL victory, tying him for 10th place with Mike Vernon on the career list.
Alexander Radulov scored twice for Nashville, and Martin Erat had the other Predators goal.
The Red Wings are one win away from 50 this season. Nashville lost its franchise record-tying sixth consecutive home game.
Franzen’s winner came at 7:45 of the third period. He carried the puck from the left boards into the circle and then wristed a shot under the right arm of goalie Chris Mason.
“I didn’t have that much time, so I just tried to get the shot as close to the post as I could,” Franzen said. “When I passed the goal the puck was in the net, so I think it went under his arm.”
Franzen has scored nine goals in his last nine games.
“I thought it was a great play by (Franzen) to get us settled down and get the game back,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “He went through everybody, hung onto the puck, and shot it into the net.”
The Predators struck first at 16:49 on Radulov’s 25th of the season, which snapped the 21-year-old Russian’s 11-game goal drought.
Kronwall’s goal 55 seconds into the middle period tied it 1-1. Dan Ellis was unable to glove Kronwall’s wrist shot from just inside the blue line.
“We’re up 1-0 to start the second period, and we were feeling pretty good about ourselves,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “Then bang, a feeble wrist shot from the blue line goes in. We’re in a playoff hunt right now. We need good goaltending, we need that save.”
Chelios’ slapshot through traffic beat Ellis low to the glove side at 4:15. Mason then replaced Ellis for the second time in two games.
“The coaches felt like they needed a change, and it’s not my job to make the decisions,” Ellis said. “I just go out and play, and if they want to change me, they change me.”
With the Red Wings on a power play, Rafalski intercepted a clearing attempt by defenceman Dan Hamhuis, skated to the top of the left circle, and tucked a wrist shot over Mason’s glove just under the crossbar.
Radulov’s second of the game came at 4:35 of the third, and Erat tied made it 3-3 2:18 later with a power-play goal.
“They scored two goals to tie the game, but we settled down and refocused, Hasek said. “We scored the fourth goal, and that was the most important one because it meant we won the game.”
Datsyuk put the game away when a breakaway goal at 14:54 of the third, and then added an empty-netter with less than a minute remaining.
Notes: Erat played in his 400th career NHL game, all with the Predators. … Red Wings C Valtteri Filppula missed his second game in two days because of a groin injury. … Ellis has started nine of 10 games. … Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Nicklas Lidstrom all have three-game point streaks.