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Perfect on road, Predators pay visit to Red Wings

by Adam Kimelman
PREDATORS (5-1-3) at RED WINGS (5-2-1)
TV -- SPSO (HD), FS-D (HD)
Season series --
This is the first of six meetings between the teams this season. Detroit took four of the six games last season, but the Predators won the teams' most recent meeting, 4-3 in overtime on Ryan Suter's goal 16 seconds into the extra period.

Big Story --
Will getting away from Nashville help the Predators? They're winless in four straight at home, including Thursday's 3-0 loss to the Blues. The Wings will be looking to close a four-game homestand on a winning note after falling Thursday to the Coyotes at Joe Louis Arena.

Team Scope:

Predators -- Even the players can't understand why the team struggles at home (2-1-3) but is perfect on the road (3-0-0).

"I don't know, you can't really explain it," defenseman Shea Weber told the Tennessean. "The guys are together a lot on the road. Maybe that helps. We have good chemistry. Guys like each other and we really rally together on the road."

The Preds have been a good road team the last few seasons. Last season their 23 road wins were tied for third in the League. And since the 2005-06 season, they've been a .500 or better team on the road in all but one season.

Red Wings -- When Jimmy Howard suffered back spasms after Thursday's game-day skate, Chris Osgood started his first game in two weeks, and the rust showed early, as he allowed three goals on the first 12 shots he faced. He stopped the next 23 shots he faced, but the damage was done.

"Ozzie made some good saves for us but he'd like to have that third one back," coach Mike Babcock told the Detroit News, pointing to a shorthanded goal by Phoenix forward Lauri Korpikoski.

Osgood said he felt better as the game went on.

"My job is to be ready no matter what," Osgood said. "I started to feel good halfway into the second. They lost three games in a row and they were desperate to do whatever they can to win."

Joey MacDonald was called up from AHL Grand Rapids to backup Osgood. He'll likely stay with the team until Howard's back is 100 percent.

Who's Hot -- Predators center Cal O'Reilly had a total of 16 points in 42 NHL games before this season. But in nine games this season, he already has 6 points, tying him for the team lead. … An assist Thursday extended Henrik Zetterberg's point streak to four games. He has 3 goals and 6 assists in that span.

Injury Report -- Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter missed his fourth straight game Thursday with a lower-body injury and there's no definitive timetable for his return. Center Matthew Lombardi remains out after suffering a concussion in the second game of the season. Forward Marcel Goc is out with a separated shoulder.

GM Ken Holland said the back spasms that sidelined Howard Thursday are a "day-to-day" issue. But to make room for MacDonald, forward Kris Draper was shifted to the long-term injured list while he recovers from hernia surgery, and defenseman Brian Rafalski was placed on the short-term injured list while he recovers from knee surgery, which is expected to sideline him at least another 2-3 weeks. Justin Abdelkader (ribs) and Jonathan Ericsson (back spasms) also missed Thursday's game and are questionable for Saturday.

Stat Pack -- Slow starts have plagued the Red Wings this season. In eight first periods, they have been outscored 10-6, and out-shot, 112-102.

Puck Drop -- With Rafalski's absence, Brad Stuart has been paired with Nicklas Lidstrom. Some might think playing with a future Hall of Famer like Lidstrom would be a blessing, but Stuart struggled when playing with Lidstrom early in his time in Detroit.

"My first year here, I'd get a little nervous playing with him. I don't know why," Stuart told "It's intimidating a little bit, not knowing him that well, and just getting here."

Since Stuart arrived in March 2008, he's mostly played with Niklas Kronwall, but now that he's been with the Wings for a while, he said he finally feels OK playing with Lidstrom.

"I don't know what it was, but you feel a little pressure," he said. "It's hard to explain. I'm over it now, but at first … you feel like there's going to be this expectation. You got to have the game of your life or he's going to be disappointed in you, but that's not the case."

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