NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Now that Detroit Red Wings’ five-game skid is really a thing of the past.
Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk each had two goals and an assist for the Red Wings, who held off the Nashville Predators 5-3 Tuesday night for their fifth straight victory.
Detroit has bounced back from its worst stretch of the season. The Red Wings were winless between Jan. 17-31 – spanning the NHL all-star break – but got back on the winning track on Feb. 2 against St. Louis and haven’t lost since.
“I think our energy level is better,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “We talked about that quite a bit. We had no energy there for a period of time. We have more energy now, and we’re attacking better and I think that’s real important.”
Zetterberg said the Red Wings have gone through their rough times and are ready to focus on the 25 games or so left until the playoffs.
“We have to work on those things that we need to get better on,” he said.
The Red Wings came out fast and outshot Nashville 27-8 in the first period. They are the only franchise to put up at least 50 shots against Nashville, and they did it for the fourth time – holding a 51-21 edge.
“Usually, they come out flying and most of the time they’re up one or two goals early,” Zetterberg said. “Today was our turn and still they found a way to come back.”
Zetterberg has 18 points in his past 15 games. Datsyuk scored a power-play goal and added an empty-netter with 12 seconds left. Marian Hossa also had a power-play goal, and Brian Rafalski added three assists.
Joel Ward scored twice for Nashville, Radek Bonk had a power-play goal and an assist, and Ryan Suter had two assists.
“We showed them way too much respect and gave them way too much space,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said.
Detroit led 3-2 going into the third when Zetterberg scored his second of the game with a backhander over Pekka Rinne’s shoulder at 3:10 for his 20th goal. Ward pulled Nashville within 4-3 when he scored under Ty Conklin’s outstretched glove at 10:36.
“That third period I should have managed, but I made a mistake and it was a tough one,” Rinne said.
The Predators came in having won five of seven since the all-star break. They also took the first game between these teams on Dec. 26.
Detroit wasted little time in tying the season series, scoring twice in the first. The 27 shots matched the most shots against the Predators in a period, a mark set by Detroit in Nashville’s fifth game as a franchise on Oct. 21, 1998.
“I thought we played a real good game,” Babcock said.
Zetterberg scored on a rebound of Rafalski’s shot, putting the puck over Rinne as the goalie was on his stomach with his head in the net at 5:02 of the first. Datsyuk, who assisted on the first goal, made it 2-0 at 10:17 with his 23rd – scoring during a power play with a snap shot from outside the back edge of the left circle.
At one point, the Red Wings outshot Nashville 15-2 and had Rinne hanging over to catch his breath during a break in play.
Hossa made it 3-0 when he scored from the left circle at 4:17 of the second, with assists from Niklas Kronwall and Jiri Hudler.
The Predators finally got going when Tomas Kopecky put them on their first power play after crashing into Rinne at 5:22 of the second. Just eight seconds into the advantage, Jason Arnott sent a shot from near the blue line that Bonk redirected past Conklin. Ward pulled Nashville within 3-2 as he tapped in a rebound of Ryan Suter’s shot from the blue line at 11:23.
“Every night nowadays is like a playoff game,” Conklin said. “The big thing for us sometimes is to match the other team’s intensity, especially when teams are in that mind-set.”
Notes: The 35 combined shots after the first period set a Nashville record. Detroit outshot the Predators 27-8, a 19-shot deficit that was a season high for Nashville and tied for the second-largest in franchise history. … Arnott has six points in six games. … Hossa has seven goals in five games. Datsyuk has 12 points in seven games, and Rafalski has six assists in four contests.