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Red Wings aim to end skid against Predators

by John Manasso /

RED WINGS (19-15-7) at PREDATORS (15-19-8)


Last 10: Detroit 4-4-2, Nashville 2-6-2

Season series: The teams have split their first two meetings. Nashville won 4-3 in overtime at Bridgestone Arena on Feb. 19 and Detroit won 4-0 on Feb. 23 at Joe Louis Arena. They play once more on April 25 in Detroit.

Big story: Detroit, which is in a fight for itself Stanley Cup Playoff life, is coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. The Red Wings, who have qualified for the postseason for 21 straight seasons, began Saturday two points up on the Dallas Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets and Phoenix Coyotes. Dallas holds a game in hand on the Red Wings. Nashville has fallen out of the playoff race with one win in its last eight games but hot prospect Filip Forsberg, a forward, is expected to make his NHL debut on Sunday.

Team Scope:

Red Wings: The Red Wings have won twice in their past eight (2-4-2) and have lost three straight, putting them in danger of falling out of the top eight. Scoring has been an issue, as they have scored 13 goals in that span.

They have lost their last two by shootout, including a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday in which the Blackhawks tied the game with less than three minutes left in regulation.

“It is frustrating, especially when you’ve got the lead in the third period and they get a chance to tie it up, and they do,” Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard told the Detroit Free Press. “I thought we did a great job here, and with two minutes and some left, we got running around a little bit in our own zone, and you can’t do that against their top line.”

The game will be the Red Wings’ second of a four-game road trip, which could determine their playoff fate. They play the Calgary Flames on Wednesday and on April 20 against the Vancouver Canucks.

“This is what we’ve earned this year and this is what our team is,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We’re no better and no worse than what we are. To me, we’re just a team battling to get into the playoffs.”

Predators: On Saturday, Nashville coach Barry Trotz said his team is basically playing without six of its top seven forwards. That is in part why the Predators have fallen out of the playoff race and why they want to see what their young players, including Forsberg can do.

“I think I’ll try to put him in situations where he might be able to show off some his ability,” Trotz said of Forsberg. “Might put him on the power play or something like that. … Even if he plays marginally, I think that’s still a good experience for him.”

The Predators have lost five straight, all in regulation, since the trading deadline. They have scored six goals in that span and been shut out twice.

Goalie Pekka Rinne could be back in net after a rare night off on Friday.

Who’s hot: For Detroit, Johan Franzen has six points in his past six games (one goal, five assists). Henrik Zetterberg has four points in his last five games, all assists. In his past six starts, Howard has allowed more than two goals only once. For Nashville center David Legwand has three goals and three assists in his past seven games. Rinne has allowed one goal in three of his past five starts.

Injury report: For Detroit, forwards Todd Bertuzzi (back), Darren Helm (back) and Mikael Samuelsson (upper body) are likely out. … For Nashville, Bourque, Wilson and Gaustad are out. Center Mike Fisher (upper body) and wing Brandon Yip (lower body) missed the game on Friday.

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