Red Wings try to avoid 4th straight loss in battle with Preds

The Detroit Red Wings know they aren't going to extend their 21-season playoff streak on reputation alone.

The Red Wings hope to avoid a fourth straight loss on Sunday night when they visit the struggling Nashville Predators.

Detroit has not missed the postseason since 1990 and its current string of playoff appearances is the longest active streak in North American professional sports.

However, the Red Wings are in a tight race for the final few playoff spots in the Western Conference. They are in the a three-way tie with the Dallas Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets for eighth in the West with 45 points. Both Detroit and Dallas have a game in hand over Columbus, but the Stars have two more non- shootout wins than the Red Wings.

Detroit has picked up a point in each of its last two losses, including Friday's 3-2 shootout setback to the rival Chicago Blackhawks. Johan Franzen and Cory Emmerton had the regulation goals and Henrik Zetterberg scored in the shootout, but Jimmy Howard was beaten twice over the five-round tiebreaker.

Howard ended with 26 saves through overtime as the Red Wings failed to gain ground the playoff race, but head coach Mike Babcock doesn't think his club is taking its current situation lightly.

"You can't be any more urgent than you already are," said Babcock. "We understand the situation pretty well I think.

"To me, strange is living in the past. You guys are talking about other teams. Same sweaters, but other teams. You are what you are. This is what we've earned this year and this is what our team is. We're no better and no worse than what we are. To me, we're just a team battling to get into the playoffs."

The Predators are losing that battle thanks to a five-game losing streak. Losers in eight of its past nine, Nashville is seven points back of the eighth spot with just six games left to play.

The Preds saw their longest losing streak of the season extended on Friday with a 5-2 loss to the visiting Dallas Stars. Bobby Butler and Taylor Beck provided the goals, while Chris Mason was shelled for all five scores on just 18 shots in giving No. 1 netminder Pekka Rinne a night off.

"This was a tough one and I don't know what to tell you guys," said Nashville defenseman Shea Weber. "It seems like we just didn't know what to do out there tonight."

The Predators will play the remainder of the season without injured forwards Gabriel Bourque, Colin Wilson and Paul Gaustad, as all three are slated to undergo surgery and are expected to be ready for training camp in September.

With an eye towards next season, the Preds added 18-year-old Filip Forsberg to the roster on Saturday and he could make his NHL debut tonight. The 11th overall pick of the 2012 draft was acquired from the Washington Capitals before the April 3 trade deadline in a deal for Martin Erat.

The Preds and Red Wings have split the first two of four meetings this year and conclude their season series on April 25 in Detroit.

Nashville won a 4-3 overtime decision at home on Feb. 19 to win for the fifth time in its past seven as the host in this series, but the Red Wings countered four nights later with a 4-0 win at Detroit.

Howard made 33 saves in the shutout.