Predators-Red Wings Preview
After keeping their point streak going through a series of tightly contested games, the Detroit Red Wings finally experienced a comfortable victory last time out.
The Red Wings will try to extend their run to 10 in Saturday night's visit from the scuffling Nashville Predators.
Detroit is 6-0-3 in its last nine for its longest point streak since going 10-0-2 from March 11-April 3, 2010. The first eight games of the current run were decided by one goal or in a shootout.
The Red Wings (14-8-4) avoided overtime just once in that stretch and hadn't done so in five straight games until a 5-1 rout of Arizona on Thursday.
Defenseman Brendan Smith was among those relieved to finally have an easier victory.
"It's exciting after we've – I think it was the last five that we went to overtime – so I think some of the boys say we don't get paid for that extra time," Smith said. "Just make sure we can win it in regulation."
They never looked back after Niklas Kronwall and Gustav Nyquist scored in the final minute of the opening period.
"I just want to keep playing real good hockey. I think that's the biggest thing. Results follow process. We have to make sure to continue to have real good hockey," coach Jeff Blashill said. "It's not going to go your way the whole time, but if your process is really, really good, results will continue to follow."
Detroit, though, lost forwards Teemu Pulkkinen (dislocated shoulder) and Drew Miller (broken jaw) to injuries that will keep them out at least six weeks. Miller, who keys a penalty-killing unit which is among the league's best (84.7 percent), will end a streak of 190 consecutive games played.
No team has been worse on the penalty kill lately than the Predators, whose last seven opponents are 8 for 19 on the power play. They let Florida score on its only opportunity Thursday and lost 2-1, falling to 2-5-1 in their last eight games.
Nashville (13-8-4) has scored a combined 12 goals during that slump.
Mike Fisher, tied for the team lead with three goals in that stretch, was placed on injured reserve Wednesday for a lower-body ailment. Fisher's absence could prove critical Saturday as he had four goals and three assists in his past five games against Detroit.
Roman Josi ended a 10-game goal drought Thursday, but top goal scorers James Neal and Shea Weber have combined for one in the past eight games.
"The goals just haven't come," defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "We know we can do it. We have guys who can score 30 and 40 goals, so I think it will come."
The Predators, held to five goals during a 1-3-1 stretch away from home, haven't scored more than three in any of their 12 road games and are scoreless on the power play in six straight.
Nashville totaled five goals in two games against Detroit last season but gave up nine and lost both.
Detroit, 4-0-2 in its past six home games, has won five of the last seven regular-season meetings at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings' Tomas Tatar, who had a team-best three goals and one assist in last season's two meetings, has six goals and four assists in his last 11 contests.
Kronwall has two assists in each of these former division rivals' past three matchups and has 10 in his last seven matchups against the Predators.