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Clinging to playoff hopes, Predators visit Red Wings

By Kate Hedlin

Stats Writer

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

behind Columbus.

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

on Monday.

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."



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