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Franzen scores shootout winner as Red Wings beat Predators 4-3

Johan Franzen scored on Detroit's fourth shot of a shootout, then Chris Osgood made a save to lift the Red Wings to a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night. "Ozzie made some big saves and we have some guys shooting who don't normally shoot," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said.

The Red Wings pulled to within a point of Nashville in the Central Division, with the top two teams in the Western Conference set to meet twice next week and again in the final month of the regular season.

Both teams played without key players because of injuries.

Among the missing Red Wings were Dominik Hasek, Henrik Zetterberg, and Todd Bertuzzi while Nashville was without Peter Forsberg, Scott Hartnell and Steve Sullivan. Forsberg also missed the previous game with an upper body injury, and is day to day.

Predators coach Barry Trotz said that didn't take a lot of lustre off the matchup.

"It's entertaining hockey," he said.

Extra shots were necessary in the shootout after both teams scored once and were stopped twice.

Regulation wasn't enough to decide the game after Nashville's Greg Zanon made it 3-3 with 8:18 left.

"It's a lot like it's going to be in the playoffs," Franzen said.

In a 25-second span of the second, Mathieu Schneider put Detroit ahead 3-2 with his 200th NHL goal and helped tie the game with an assist.

When Schneider went to the bench, teammate Nicklas Lidstrom congratulated him on reaching an impressive milestone for a defenceman.

"He said, 'Welcome to the club, kid,' " Schneider recalled. "I said, 'I just missed you by two games.' "

The Red Wings improved to an NHL-best 24-3-5 at home and a league-high 29-4-1 when they score first.

"This is the first time in a long time I thought we looked like a team that wasn't sure we were just going to win," Babcock said. "Normally when we're ahead, it's over with.

"Tonight when we were ahead, I thought we got on our heels a little bit."

Babcock won his 100th game with the team in 149 games, the second-fastest to reach the milestone. Tom Johnson had 100 victories in 138 games with the Boston Bruins.

"When you start to get 800 or 900, then you can start talking," Babcock said. "In the meantime, it's not much."

Detroit is 6-0-3 in its last nine games and hasn't lost at home in regulation in 17 games, dating to Dec. 12 against Ottawa. The Red Wings lead the Predators 3-2 in the season series.

Nashville heads home after earning a point and closing a road trip 3-0-2.

"It was a good point," Predators forward J.P. Dumont said. "We've been shorthanded the whole road trip, but guys have showed a lot of character.

"I'm real happy with our team right now."

After Pavel Datsyuk put Detroit ahead 1-0, Martin Erat tied it late in the first and Jason Arnott gave the Predators a 2-1 lead early in the second. Robert Lang tied the game at 12:30 of the second, off a rebound of Schneider's shot.

Osgood stopped 24 shots in regulation and overtime and Tomas Vokoun made 32 saves for the Predators, 5-0-3 in their last eight games.

Nashville needed more than regulation for the sixth time in seven games.

"We've had a lot of close games like this lately," Vokoun said. "It's been kind of like the playoffs - a lot of closer scores as the season goes on."

Notes: The Red Wings were without: Hasek (thigh), Zetterberg (back), Bertuzzi (back), Tomas Holmstrom (upper body) and Dan Cleary (knee) . . . Arnott (flu) and David Legwand (upper back injury) returned to the lineup after missing Sunday's game at Anaheim, but the Predators missed Forsberg, Hartnell (foot) and Sullivan (back). Trotz said he didn't know when Forsberg would play again . . . Datsyuk has a five-game point streak, posting eight assists in the previous four games . . . Lang has two goals in three games after going scoreless in nine.


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