DETROIT (AP) – The Detroit Red Wings are playing as though they have no intention of their long streak of playoff appearances ending this year.
Pavel Datsyuk had a goal and two assists, and Detroit moved a step closer to its 22nd consecutive postseason berth with a 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.
The Red Wings, who moved into seventh place in the Western Conference, need one more point to secure their place in the postseason. They own the longest current playoff streak in North American professional sports.
“We just have to make sure we get in the playoffs and hope we keep playing well. That’s the plan,” said Valtteri Filppula, who scored his 100th NHL goal. “Know we’ll just wait and see what happens.”
Detroit has one regular-season game remaining.
Johan Franzen had a goal and an assist, and Patrick Eaves and Justin Abdelkader also scored for Detroit. Henrik Zetterberg had two assists, and Jimmy Howard stopped 20 shots.
“They got the first one, but slowly we worked ourselves into the game,” captain Zetterberg said. “We had a lot of penalties in the first period. I think in the second the special teams were good, power play was good and the PK was good. It’s nice to get the two points, now just have to move on to the last game.”
Mike Fisher and Craig Smith each had a goal and an assist for Nashville, which got 33 saves from Chris Mason.
“Everybody in that room is proud, and they know about the streak. Everybody in that room doesn’t want it to end on their watch,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said of the Red Wings.
Detroit scored three times in the second period to take a 4-2 lead.
Franzen netted his seventh in seven games just 1:01 into the period, seconds after a Detroit power play ended. He put in a rebound for his 14th goal to tie it at 2.
Eaves gave the Red Wings a 3-2 advantage 2:40 later when he scored on a one-timer from the left circle off a backhanded pass from Jordan Tootoo, who was just inside the blue line. It was Eaves’ second goal.
It was the second game in a row that Detroit’s fourth line — that includes — Eaves and Tootoo — provided the go-ahead goal.
“Just contributing feels good. Our line had a great night last night, and then we had another great night tonight so we’re having fun out there,” said Eaves, the Red Wings’ Masterton Trophy candidate after returning at the start of the season from concussion-like symptoms following a broken jaw sustained in November 2011.
Datsyuk made it a two-goal cushion with 47 seconds remaining in the period with a power-play goal. He beat Mason with a wrist shot from the high slot on the rush for his 15th goal.
Abdelkader scored late in the third.
Smith gave Nashville a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal with 7:30 left in the first period. He scored from a goal-mouth scramble for his fourth of the season.
Fisher opened the scoring on the game’s first shot, 1:46 in. He completed a 2-on-1 rush with a one-timed shot from the bottom of the right circle off a pass from Smith. Fisher’s 10th goal was the result of a turnover by defenseman Jakub Kindl at the Predators’ blue line.
Filppula’s ninth goal tied it 1-1 at 6:53 of the first. He put in a one-timer from the inside edge of the left circle.
NOTES: Johan Franzen returned after missing the last few minutes of Wednesday night’s 3-1 win over Los Angeles because of an undisclosed injury. … Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi has been cleared to play after missing 11 weeks because of a pinched nerve in his back. He has played in only seven games this season. … Nashville recalled forward Joonas Rask from Milwaukee of the AHL and assigned forwards Filip Forsberg and Austin Watson to Milwaukee. … Nashville forward Matt Halischuk left the game in the second period with a shoulder injury and didn’t return. Trotz said Halischuk would miss Saturday night’s regular-season finale, and that the injury could be serious.
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