DETROIT - For the Nashville Predators, these truly are must-win games.
The Predators kept their playoff hopes alive, coming from two-goal down and winning the shootout to beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 on Thursday night. Ville Koistinen and Jason Arnott scored in the shootout for Nashville, which tied the St. Louis Blues for the eighth and final playoff spot. St. Louis has two games remaining. Nashville finishes the regular season Friday night in Minnesota.
"This is the biggest game of the year," Arnott said. "Tomorrow night will be the biggest game of the year."
Arnott also had a goal and an assist in regulation and Scott Nichol and J.P. Dumont scored for Nashville. Pekka Rinne stopped 23 shots.
"We stayed alive," Predators' coach Barry Trotz said. "That's pretty good. Coming back when you're down 3-1 (in the third period) to the Detroit Red Wings."
Nicklas Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall and Johan Franzen scored for Detroit and Henrik Zetterberg had two assists. Jiri Hudler scored in the shootout. Chris Osgood made 22 saves.
"We knew they were going to come out and be really desperate in the third period," Lidstrom said.
Dumont tied the game with a minute left in regulation on a goal-mouth scramble on the power play and with Rinne pulled for an extra attacker. It was Dumont's 16th goal.
Arnott brought Nashville to within one with 6:42 left with his 31st goal. He scored on a rebound after a giveaway by Lidstrom in Detroit's zone.
"We came in after the second period and we felt we were in a good spot," Arnott said. "We knew we had to come out and lay it on the line and go on the offence."
Lidstrom broke a 1-all tie with just 33 seconds left in the second period with a power-play goal. He beat Rinne on a slap shot from the left point for his 16th goal.
Franzen made it 3-1 less than three minutes into the third on a wrist shot from the slot for his 34th goal.
Detroit, which has two games left, will finish second in the Western Conference.
"I think we were doing a lot of good things tonight and we've got to take those with us (to the playoffs)," Lidstrom said. "But we've got to play 60 minutes."
Nichol tied the game with his fourth goal, 6:18 into the second period. He beat Osgood from the top of the right circle.
Kronwall's power-play goal was the only scoring in the first period. He beat Rinne with a slap shot from the point in the middle of the ice with 8:10 left in the opening period for his sixth goal.
Notes: Detroit D Brian Rafalski returned after missing four games with a sore groin. ... Red Wings' D Andreas Lilja, who has been out since Feb. 28 with post-concussion syndrome, won't be ready for the start of the playoffs because there's still a vein in his brain that bleeds. He's been experiencing headaches. ... Nashville LW Antti Pihlstrom missed his fourth game with an upper-body injury. ... Red Wing RW Marian Hossa left the game midway through the second period with a lower-body injury and didn't return for precautionary reasons. Detroit coach Mike Babcock said Hossa was day-to-day after the game. ... Lidstrom's goal was his 228th and moves him into 12th in career goals by a defenceman. He had been tied with Steve Duchesne and Kevin Hatcher.