Luke Witkowski's first NHL goal helps Red Wings beat Predators 3-1
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Petr Mrazek stopped 30 shots to remain unbeaten against Nashville as the Detroit Red Wings beat the Predators 3-1 Saturday night.
Mrazek improved to 6-0-0 in his career against the Predators, coming within minutes of getting his second shutout against them.
Defenseman Luke Witkowski scored his first NHL goal, Gustav Nyquist and Darren Helm also scored for the Red Wings, who beat Nashville for the seventh straight time.
Craig Smith scored for the Predators, who lost in regulation at home in consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 19-21. Juuse Saros finished with 31 saves.
The Predators had the upper hand in the game's opening minutes, but Detroit capitalized on a blown coverage to take a 1-0 lead 4:12 into the game. Nashville defenseman Anthony Bitetto was caught well up ice, leading to a breakaway for Witkowski, who beat Saros with a backhand on the Red Wings' first shot.
Detroit doubled its advantage midway through the first when Nyquist re-directed Nick Jensen's shot between Saros' legs for his 16th.
The Red Wings blocked 10 Predators shots in the game's first 11 minutes, protecting Mrazek.
Nashville had three power-play opportunities in the first 40 minutes, but managed just one shot on goal during that stretch. The Predators had gone 0 for 21 with the man advantage over seven contests before Smith scored on a breakaway with 5:25 left in the third for his 17th.
Mrazek came up with a couple of big saves earlier in the third period to keep the Wings' two-goal lead. He turned away Calle Jarnkrok on a short-handed breakaway and denied Ryan Ellis' blast from the slot.
Helm capped the scoring with an empty-netter with 1:19 left.
NOTES: Nashville C Kyle Turris returned to the lineup after missing Thursday's game due to illness. ... The Predators flipped their third defensive pairing in this game, scratching Alexei Emelin and Yannick Weber and inserting Matt Irwin and Anthony Bitetto. Emelin had played in 54 straight games. ... Red Wings D Mike Green, the subject of much trade speculation, sat out the game with an upper-body injury. ... The crowd of 17,561 was a Bridgestone Arena record.
Red Wings: Host Toronto on Sunday to open a four-game homestand.
Predators: Host Ottawa on Monday to close a four-game homestand.