The Nashville Predators broke out of their offensive slump on Monday, but couldn't convert the performance into a win. They'll hope for more positive results on Tuesday night when they battle the Detroit Red Wings for the first time since knocking the division rival out of last season's playoffs.
The Predators went into Monday's meeting with the Colorado Avalanche ranked last in the NHL with 1.87 goals per game and padded that stat a bit in a 6-5 setback. The two clubs combined for seven goals in the second period and Nashville had its highest goal-scoring output since a 6-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 5.
However, the Avs grabbed momentum in that second period with a goal on a blown offsides call as Colorado's Matt Duchene capitalized on the ref's mistake with a goal that put the Avalanche up by two early in the frame.
"They didn't blow the whistle. They thought we passed it back. It's part of the game that we can't control," said Predators head coach Barry Trotz.
That mistake loomed even larger when Shea Weber scored to pull the Preds to within one with 1:18 left, but Nashville couldn't complete the rally and fell to 2-2-2 in its last six with its first loss to the Avalanche in 10 meetings.
Weber was one of five Nashville players to finish with a goal and an assist. Mike Fisher added his 199th career goal and Colin Wilson potted his team- leading fifth goal and 12th point. A native of Greenwich, Conn., Wilson is riding a career-high four-game point streak.
Chris Mason got his third start of the season, but yielded six goals on 18 shots before Trotz was forced to turn to No. 1 Pekka Rinne during the second period. Rinne stopped all 10 shots he faced in relief.
"We dominated in the third and I thought we could get at least a point," Trotz said.
Patric Hornqvist returned to action for the Predators after missing 10 games with a lower body injury and had an assist, but center Paul Gaustad is questionable for Tuesday after exiting with an upper body injury the previous night.
Rinne, meanwhile, is likely to get the start against the Red Wings, who he is 11-5-3 against lifetime with a 2.29 goals against average and .932 save percentage with three shutouts. He also started all five games of last season's Western Conference quarterfinals victory over Detroit.
That playoff series win came after the Preds split six regular-season meetings with the Red Wings.
Detroit is looking to snap a three-game slide on Tuesday, a skid that was extended with Sunday's 3-2 loss in Minnesota.
Pavel Datsyuk scored 20 seconds into the second period after assisting on Damien Brunner's opening-frame tally, but the next three goals went to the Wild, all in the middle period.
"We had a real good start, but we came out of the locker room in the second period and I don't know what happened there," said Detroit head coach Mike Babcock. "They came out strong and picked up a lot of momentum there. They scored on our mistakes and we couldn't do anything after that."
Both Datsyuk and Brunner netted their team-leading seventh goal, while captain Henrik Zetterberg assisted on both scores to give him 20 points on the season.
Getting a power-play goal on the road could help the Red Wings snap their slide. They went 0-for-3 in Minnesota and have failed to score a power-play goal over their first six road games of the season (0-for-26), the longest stretch in team history since 1938-39, when they went the first eight road games.
After getting a rest in Sunday's loss, Jimmy Howard should start this game for the Red Wings. He is 6-5-1 with a 2.42 GAA and .916 save percentage in his career against the Predators.
Petr Mrazek made 21 saves versus the Wild, but was reassigned to the minors on Monday after Jonas Gustavsson was recalled from a conditioning stint.