Although Nashville was edged by the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 in a shootout on Tuesday night at Joe Louis Arena, the Predators earned at least a point for the eighth straight game. That point not only kept Nashville one ahead of the Red Wings in the Central Division but it also put the Preds back on top in the NHL.
The Predators, who ended a five-game road trip (3-0-2) on Tuesday night in Detroit, have gone 5-0-3 in their last eight games and ended the evening with the overall points lead in the NHL with 94.
After some early pressure by Nashville, it was Detroit who got on the board first with Pavel Datsyuk's 20th goal of the season. Datsyuk, who broke in on the right-side boards, made a nifty move on the goal line around Nashville's Marek Zidlicky and beat Tomas Vokoun high on the short side.
The Predators, who will play two of their next four games vs. their Central Division rivals from Detroit, tied the game 1-1 with a power-play goal at 15:08 of the first period. Paul Kariya fired a wrist shot that trickled through the pads of Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood and landed in the crease. Martin Erat, who was waiting on the doorstep, then tapped it in for his 15th of the year.
At 5:11 of the second period, Jason Arnott scored his 22nd of the season with a one-timer blast. Jerred Smithson created the play after J.P. Dumont dumped the puck in from center ice. Smithson raced to the right corner and just beat out Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom before sending the puck to Arnott at the face-off circle.
The Red Wings later regained the lead, scoring 25 seconds apart at 12:30 and 12:55 of the second period. Robert Lang banged in a rebound nine seconds into an Erat holding penalty and then defenseman Mathieu Schneider beat Vokoun after jumping up in the play in a quick transition from the Red Wings' zone. Schneider broke in on Vokoun virtually untouched and beat the netminder with a wrist shot high on his blocker side.
The Predators tied the game 3-3 with Greg Zanon's second of the season at 11:42 of the third period. Erat broke in alone on the right side, skated behind the Detroit net, came back out to the point and left it for Zanon, who fired a wrist shot that hit Osgood in the shoulder and dropped in behind him.
Neither team recorded a shot on net in the overtime and it was Johan Franzen's shootout goal in the fourth round that notched the 4-3 win for Detroit.
The Predators return to Nashville to face the Calgary Flames on Thursday night at Nashville Arena.