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Red Wings begin road trip with win at Predators

by Robby Stanley

NASHVILLE -- Luke Glendening scored the game-winning goal 6:45 into the third period to give the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 win against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday.

Glendening scored on a deflection in front of Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne. Defenseman Brendan Smith took the original shot from the point that Glendening was able to redirect past Rinne for his second goal.

"I think since the beginning of the year, you go back about 10 games or whatnot, I think our net-front [presence] has been really, really good," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. "If you look back at lots of the goals and even some of the near misses, we've had great net-front [presence]. It's a big part of hockey today, and it's been a big part of what we've wanted to do."

Smith gave the Red Wings (18-10-7) a 1-0 lead at 5:34 of the first period on a slap shot from the right faceoff circle. Smith took the pass from forward Darren Helm and took a shot that beat Rinne for his second goal.

"It's hard to score in this League," Smith said. "Sometimes they go in and sometimes they don't. Right now, they're going in. I don't really want to say anything. It's like I want to knock on wood kind of thing because they're coming. I think even before when I wasn't getting them, I thought I was making good plays but they weren't going in. It's hard to score in this League, and they're going in so I'm happy and the boys are happy."

Detroit is 7-3-3 on the road; the game began a three-game road trip in which the Red Wings will visit the Minnesota Wild on Monday and Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.

Forward Filip Forsberg tied the game for the Predators (17-12-6) 45 seconds later on a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle. Forsberg took the pass from forward Mike Ribeiro on a 3-on-2 rush and took a shot that beat Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek for his eighth goal.

"He looks strong to me with the way he's skating," Predators coach Peter Laviolette said. "He's hard to defend when he moves the puck in and out of areas quick, when he's fast off the rush. Hard to defend. He looks like he's strong right now."

Riley Sheahan gave the Red Wings a 2-1 lead at 2:55 of the second period with a power-play goal on a wrist shot from the right side of Rinne. Forward Brad Richards took the original shot from the point, and Sheahan was able to get to the rebound and slide the puck past Rinne for his fourth goal.

"It was just kind of a good bounce," Sheahan said. "Some guys made some good plays on the walls, and [Richards] made a great play to get the puck to the net. I just tried to get a stick on it, and fortunately enough it bounced back to me so I had to put it in."

Forsberg tied the game 2-2 at 17:11 of the second period on a deflection off of a faceoff. Predators forward Craig Smith retrieved the puck and took a wrist shot that went off of Forsberg and past Mrazek for his second goal of the game and ninth of the season.

"Tonight it was more of an even game," Laviolette said. "I do think that in the third period we turned it on. The first two periods, the first period was a little bit us and the second period was a little bit them. The third period I thought we got going and played better and had looks. We just came out on the wrong end of the third period."

Detroit traveled to Nashville on Saturday morning after having off for three days for the Christmas break. The players said getting back into a mentality for hockey was difficult, but they liked the way the team responded.

"I think that's the toughest part is to go on the road and try to get points," Smith said. "I think we did a good job tonight. It's a nice time to get away and kind of recharge the battery and then come back to hockey."

Mrazek made 24 saves for Detroit and improved to 11-6-3. Rinne made 20 saves for Nashville.

"I think we played well from the beginning," Mrazek said. "We scored early, they tied the game but we got some good looks in the first period. In the second, we had lots of chances. [Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar] hit the post. We had a couple of good shots there and they didn't go in, but a nice tip-in by [Glendening].

Detroit rookie forward Dylan Larkin missed the game with an upper-body injury and is day-to-day.

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