There was no post-holiday hangover for one of the NHL’s hottest teams.
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Valtteri Filppula scored twice and added an assist to lead the Detroit Red Wings to their fifth straight win, 4-1 over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.
”As of late, we’ve been playing pretty well,” said Filppula, who had his first multi-goal game of the season. ”If we keep playing like this, I think we have a good chance to win games.”
The victory came a day after the Red Wings ended Boston’s league-best 10-game winning streak.
Filppula assisted on Henrik Zetterberg’s goal as Detroit won its league-best ninth game at home. Dan Cleary added his fourth goal of the season early in the third period.
Detroit was sharp from the start and killed a penalty early in the first period before taking the lead for good. The Red Wings outshot Nashville 25-8 in the first two periods to take control.
Coach Mike Babcock was pleased with his team’s energy, especially after playing its fourth game in eight days.
”Obviously, playing Boston yesterday, we knew that was going to be a grind,” he said. ”I thought our guys responded. Today we got more depth from everyone.”
Jack Hillen ended Jimmy Howard’s bid for his fourth shutout of the season when he scored midway through the third period. Howard ended the night with 18 saves.
Pekka Rinne had 33 saves for the Predators, who lost their fourth straight.
”They played well and we didn’t bring our work hats tonight,” said Hillen, who scored his first goal of the season. ”It showed on the ice.”
Filppula opened the scoring late in the first period with a power-play goal. Todd Bertuzzi’s shot zipped along the goal line to his teammate, who backhanded it past Rinne.
Detroit made it 2-0 less than 2 minutes into the second period when Zetterberg shot into the top of the net past a prone Rinne. It was a three-goal game 7 minutes later when Filppula redirected Jiri Hudler’s shot.
Hudler initially was given credit for the goal but the scorer awarded it to Filppula after reviewing a replay, which showed the puck bouncing off the stick of Nashville’s Craig Smith before Filppula tipped it past Rinne.
”I couldn’t even see the puck,” Filppula said. ”I could just feel it hit my stick.”
Howard won his fifth straight and got a hand from defenseman Brad Stuart, who swatted away a shot that got behind the goalie late in the first period.
Detroit winger Patrick Eaves was taken off the ice on a stretcher late in the game after he was struck near the right ear by Roman Josi’s slap shot. He was conscious and lifted himself onto the cart before leaving the arena.
”You don’t want to see a player go down and be taken off on a stretcher,” said Josi, who made his NHL debut Saturday night. ”I felt bad. I said that to him and he said it’s alright and he’s going to be fine. That was good; he stood up alone and got on the stretcher.”
Eaves was taken to Detroit Medical Center and an examination revealed he has a fractured jaw. He will be evaluated over the next few days to determine if he requires surgery.
Notes: Filppula has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in his last six home games. … Saturday’s game was the second of a five-game road swing for the Predators. … Eaves was back in the lineup after missing five straight games as a healthy scratch. … Nashville is 0-5-1 when trailing after the first period. … The Red Wings matched their longest winning streak of the season.