By Alan Ferguson
Nashville (37-30-8) at Detroit (49-17-9), 5 p.m. EDT
DETROIT (AP) -- The Nashville Predators' road to a fifth
straight postseason berth will take them through Detroit twice.
While the Predators humbled the Red Wings in the previous
meeting, winning at Joe Louis Arena hasn't proved to be easy.
Looking to maintain its spot in a highly contested Western
Conference race, Nashville will try for its second win in 13
trips to Detroit on Sunday.
The Predators (37-30-8) earned a point in their seventh straight
game with Saturday's 4-3 overtime victory over visiting Los
Angeles. After allowing the tying goal with 1:04 to play in
regulation, Steve Sullivan gave Nashville the victory with a
power-play goal at 3:41 of the extra session.
Nashville is in sole possession of seventh place in the West
with 82 points.
"It's taxing our nerves, it's taxing our resiliency, and it's
taxing our character a little bit lately," said Predators coach
Barry Trotz, whose team is 4-0-3 in its last seven. "It has been
a rough week. We have played three games in five nights, and
they have all been emotionally draining in one way or another."
The Predators have seven games remaining, but two will be at Joe
Louis, where they have one win in their last nine regular-season
trips and lost three times in last season's first-round playoff
Nashville begins a three-game road trip Sunday and travels back
to Detroit on April 9 before ending the regular season the next
night in Minnesota.
However, the Predators routed the Red Wings 8-0 at home on Feb.
28, scoring five times in the first 10:48. Rookie Pekka Rinne
stopped 30 shots to hand Detroit its first shutout of the
Nashville captain Jason Arnott had a hat trick in that game, but
Arnott, who has a team-leading 27 goals, hasn't played since
March 10 due to a concussion.
The Predators have taken consecutive victories without David
Legwand, who is expected to miss a third straight game after
getting hit in the face with a puck in practice on Wednesday.
Legwand had scored 20 goals for second time in 10 seasons
Joel Ward has stepped in with five goals and an assist in the
last six games, and Shea Weber has three goals and four assists
in that time.
The Red Wings (49-17-9) failed to capitalize on a chance to take
the Western Conference lead and make history at the start of a
four-game homestand Friday night as the lowly New York Islanders
beat Detroit 2-0.
Former Red Wings goaltender Joey MacDonald stopped 42 shots, and
attempts from Marian Hossa, Valtteri Filppula and Pavel Datsyuk
hit posts or crossbars.
"Early on we didn't play as well as we had to against a team
that played loose, played with confidence," Detroit captain
Nicklas Lidstrom said. "We didn't get skating until later in the
game, and we were down 2-0 at the time."
The Red Wings, who haven't been shut out in consecutive games
since Dec. 15-17, 2001, come into Sunday trying to clinch a
share of their eighth straight Central Division title, and look
to join Boston (1970-74) and Montreal (1975-79) as the only
teams with four consecutive 50-win seasons.
Mike Babcock would become the first coach with four straight
50-win campaigns since Scotty Bowman did it with the Canadiens
Datsyuk has two goals and four assists while Henrik Zetterberg
has three and three in four games against Nashville this season.
The Predators and Red Wings have split those games.