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Red Wings, Predators meet for first time since playoffs

by Dave Lozo

RED WINGS (7-6-2) at PREDATORS (7-4-5)


Last 10: Detroit 5-4-1; Nashville 6-2-2.

Season series: This is the first of four meetings. The Predators eliminated the Red Wings from the Western Conference Quarterfinals last season in five games.

Big story: The Wings and Preds are in the wake of the practically unbeatable Chicago Blackhawks in the Central Division. Both clubs are currently focused on remaining in the playoff picture despite various inconsistencies.

Team Scope:

Red Wings: Mike Babcock’s club was middling through nine games, hanging around .500 with up-and-down play that was the partial result of injuries. But the Red Wings ripped off three straight wins and looked to be back to their usual selves.

But three straight losses – including Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Minnesota that saw the Wings squander a 2-0 lead – has Babcock discussing the gravity of his team’s situation.

"You have to win and get points in this league, otherwise you lose sight of things in a hurry," Babcock said. "Right now, we're taking on water."

Predators: Monday in Colorado, the Predators scored five goals against the Avalanche, which would’ve been enough to win any of their first 15 games. But the Avs poured home six goals against the usually stingy Predators in a wild 6-5 victory.

Backup Chris Mason was given a start in net, but he didn’t receive much help in allowing six goals on 18 shots. He was replaced early in the second period by Pekka Rinne, who will get the start against Detroit.

Who's hot: Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk has goals in four straight games. … It appears Shea Weber has found his offensive groove. After registering zero points in his first 13 games, he has two goals and two assists in his last three.

Injury report: Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi (back) is out indefinitely. Johan Franzen (back) missed Sunday’s game. … The Predators have no new injuries to report.

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