Predators continue playoff push against Red Wings

Sports

With 16 games remaining in the regular season, the Nashville Predators head into Thursday’s road clash with the Detroit Red Wings in the driver’s seat.

Thanks to a stretch of 10 wins in their last 12 games, the Predators are alone in the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central Division, and they will look to strengthen their position in a rematch with the Red Wings after claiming a 3-2 shootout win in Detroit on Tuesday.

Considering how bleak Nashville’s playoff hopes looked three weeks ago, it’s been an incredible turnaround for the Predators.

“There’s not too many games left anymore; every single game matters,” forward Mikael Granlund said. “It’s all about just getting ready for the next one and just trying to find these ways to win the games and get to playoffs. We’ve put ourselves in a pretty good spot right now. … Let’s just try to do the best we can.”

Nashville, which has won two straight games and taken five of seven meetings with the last-place Red Wings, claimed the first half of this two-game series by twice erasing third-period deficits before winning via shootout, even without a couple of key players in forwards Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson, along with long-term injured players Ryan Ellis, Brad Richardson, Mark Borowiecki and Matt Duchene.

The Predators have won all four shootouts they’ve had this season.

“We didn’t play our best game in the first period, but then we started to get into our game in the second period and then just kept going in the third period, and that’s kind of (the way) we’ve been playing,” Granlund said. “We just keep going and keep playing all four lines, and it really seems like we’re finding a way to win these games right now. There’s a lot of good things out there we do.”

The injury-riddled and rebuilding Red Wings are destined for another high draft pick and struggling with one win over their last five games (1-2-2), but believe they’re building back toward the winning environment that made them a powerhouse in the 1990s and 2000s. One part of improving was to ensure they didn’t suffer a fate similar to their meeting with Nashville two weeks ago, in which the Predators demolished them in a 7-1 game.

“It was pretty embarrassing the way we came out and fell flat,” forward Darren Helm said in reference to that game. “We wanted to prove to ourselves that we could play a lot better, and we’ve put a couple good games together.”

That said, it’s hard to prevent losing from taking a toll.

“We had a lead in the third period, and we found another way to lose,” Detroit captain Dylan Larkin said. “We’re making progress, but at some point, that has to turn into getting results.”

Detroit’s injury woes definitely aren’t helping right now. Forward Robby Fabbri is out of action, while defenseman Patrik Nemeth, forwards Bobby Ryan and Sam Gagner and goaltender Jonathan Bernier are all questionable. Ryan, Gagner and Bernier all practiced on Wednesday.

There has been some positive news recently for the Red Wings, however. Forward Adam Erne continues to thrive in an increased role. A third-period goal on Tuesday was his eighth in the last 20 games and he’s riding a four-game point streak.

“He’s right up there in goals for our team and he’s earned every bit of ice he’s gotten this year,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “He certainly hasn’t been given anything and he’s done a good job of earning it.”

–Field Level Media

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