Though they lead the Central Division, the Nashville Predators' hopes of ending the Detroit Red Wings' dominance appears to have taken a major hit.
Already missing center Jason Arnott, the Predators will be without starting goaltender Tomas Vokoun when they meet the Red Wings at the Gaylord Entertainment Center on Saturday.
The Red Wings (12-5-4) have won the Central Division each of the past five seasons, while Nashville (14-5-2) has finished in second place the past two seasons.
The Predators are off to the second-best start in franchise history and lead second-place Detroit by two points, but will be without Vokoun for the next two to six weeks.
The Tennessean newspaper reported Friday that Vokoun was scheduled to have surgery Monday to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. Team officials declined comment Friday evening.
Last season, a blood clotting condition forced Vokoun to miss the final 13 games of the regular season and all of the playoffs. Despite that, Nashville re-signed Vokoun to a four-year, $22.8 million contract in September.
Vokoun stopped 21 shots in the first two periods of Nashville's 6-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday before leaving with the thumb injury. Chris Mason made 13 saves in the third period against the Canucks. He's 3-1-1 with a 2.56 GAA and one shutout in six games this season.
Mason is 1-0 with a 3.28 GAA in four career games against Detroit. The Predators on Friday recalled Karl Goehring from Milwaukee of the AHL to back up Mason.
Arnott is expected to miss up to six weeks after undergoing knee surgery. Arnott, who's tied for the team lead with four power-play goals, was inked to a five-year, $22.5 million free-agent deal in July.
In its first game without Arnott, Nashville had 11 different players record a point against the Canucks. Scott Hartnell scored two goals and added an assist, while rookie Alexander Radulov and Shea Weber each had a goal and an assist.
"We got good contributions from all over the lineup," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "One of the things you find out about your team when you have injuries is who is going to step up and make a difference. Everybody stepped up. That's how we are going to win. We win when we are good as a team."
Paul Kariya had three assists on Thursday, and has one goal and seven assists in his last six games. Kariya has four goals and four assists in his last five games against Detroit.
The Predators have lost four of its last six against Detroit including a 3-0 defeat on Nov. 10.
The Red Wings lost to St. Louis 3-2 in a shootout on Friday - its fourth straight game after tying a franchise record with nine wins in a row. Detroit has not lost five straight games since Dec. 18-26, 1998.
"We were standing still out there," defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said.
Lidstrom scored his fifth goal Friday, and leads Detroit with 13 assists and 18 points. He scored against the Predators earlier this season, and has three goals and four assists in his last eight games against them.
Dominik Hasek made 17 saves on Friday, and to stop both shots he faced in the shootout. Hasek is expected to get the night off against Nashville.
The six-time Vezina Trophy winner has rested the second game each time the Red Wings have played on consecutive nights this season. Detroit is 2-1-1 in the second game of back-to-back contests.
Backup goalie Chris Osgood is 3-1-0 with a 2.16 GAA this season, and is 12-5 with two ties, a 2.19 GAA and one shutout lifetime against the Predators.