NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Danny Cleary tipped in Brian Rafalski's shot 2:58 into overtime for Detroit's fourth unanswered goal, leading the Red Wings to a 4-3 victory over the Nashville Predators on Saturday that clinched their 20th straight playoff berth.
Justin Abdelkader had two goals, and Jakub Kindl also scored as Detroit improved to 2-3-2 in its last seven games. Rafalski finished with two assists and Jimmy Howard stopped 31 shots in his first game back after missing two with a strained left shoulder.
The Red Wings extended the longest active playoff streak among North America's four major professional sports. They also got to 100 points for an 11th straight season, extending their own NHL record.
Ryan Suter had a power-play goal and an assist, Sergei Kostitsyn and Martin Erat scored, and Mike Fisher had two assists for Nashville. The second-place Predators blew a chance to pull within two points of Detroit in the Central Division with a week left in the season, allowing the Red Wings to leave town with a comfortable five-point cushion.
The Predators certainly had plenty of chances but went 1 for 5 on the power play, including two missed opportunities in the final seven minutes of regulation.
Howard, who gave up the three goals in the first 23 minutes, kept the Red Wings alive with a stretching stick save on Joel Ward midway through the third. He also stopped Patric Hornqvist trying to score off the rebound of Suter's shot on a power play late in regulation. He also stopped Kostitsyn's shot from in front 30 seconds into overtime.
Cleary's tip-in was his 25th of the season. Rafalski also had the first assist on Abdelkader's tying goal.
Detroit was coming off an embarrassing 10-3 loss to St. Louis that was its worst setback in years. It looked primed for a fast start against the Predators when Nicklas Lidstrom scored on an early power play, but it was waved off for a goaltender interference call on Tomas Holmstrom.
The Red Wings killed off that penalty, before Abdelkader was penalized for boarding Erat, and Holmstrom was called for delay of game for putting the puck over the glass 27 seconds later, giving Nashville a 5-on-3. Suter scored on a slap shot from the high slot 34 seconds later for a 1-0 lead.
Erat picked up Nashville's second power-play goal early in the second and Kostitsyn made it 3-0 with a slap shot at 2:37, prompting Detroit coach Mike Babcock to take a timeout.
Detroit's Todd Bertuzzi and Nashville defenseman Shane O'Brien fought briefly, and that seemed to fire up the Red Wings. Kindl scored on a snap shot for Detroit at 3:28 on a turnover by Nashville, and Abdelkader made it 3-2 by scoring 1:22 later on a tip-in.
Abdelkader tied it up at 3:59 of the third, earning his seventh of the season with a wrister.
NOTES: The Red Wings scratched Niklas Kronwall and Pavel Datsyuk missed his seventh straight game overall and third against Nashville this season, this time with a lower body injury. ... Detroit had scored only one goal in its previous two games in Nashville. ... Detroit improved to 11-1-2 in the first of back-to-back games. ... Kostitsyn became Nashville's first 20-goal scorer this season and extended his points streak to a career-best nine straight games. He has four goals and seven assists in the surge.