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Published September 19, 2015
Henrik Zetterberg scored in the second period, and the Detroit Red Wings beat the Nashville Predators 3-0 Sunday night for a crucial two points in their chase to extend their streak of playoff berths.
The Red Wings got their first win in four games, the last two shootout losses, and moved into sole possession of eighth in the Western Conference two points ahead of Dallas and Columbus. Johan Franzen also scored a goal, and Justin Abdelkader added an empty-netter late. Jimmy Howard made 22 saves for his third shutout this season.
Pekka Rinne made 29 saves for Nashville, which lost its sixth straight.
Nashville hoped to spoil the Red Wings' playoff chase in their final game in Music City as Central Division rivals before realignment. Their final game is April 25 in Detroit in a rivalry where Nashville measured itself against the Original Six team from its inception before beating the Red Wings in the playoffs last year.
The Red Wings hadn't won since April 5. They began the day tied with Dallas and Columbus with 45 points, with the pressure mounting to uphold a tradition featuring 21 consecutive playoff appearances. Howard, who had his 14th career shutout, certainly helped as he stopped 13 shots in the first period before Detroit started firing pucks at Rinne over the final 40 minutes.
Nashville was seven points behind that trio of teams fighting for the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot. With five games left after playing Detroit, that hope is slim for a franchise that has turned to a forced youth movement because of injuries.
The Predators started Filip Forsberg, the 18-year-old forward they got from Washington at the trade deadline in exchange for veteran Martin Erat. He arrived Saturday from Sweden and was the sixth rookie in the lineup Sunday night for a team with three forwards already heading toward season-ending surgeries with Patric Hornqvist, Brandon Yip and Mike Fisher also scratched for injuries.
He skated on a line with David Legwand and Taylor Beck, filling in for Hornqvist.
Forsberg, drafted at No. 11 overall in 2012 by the Capitals, showed off some of his offensive instincts with his first NHL shot. He broke out on a 1-on-3 and had a wrister from the slot that Howard stopped at 7:54 of the first. Forsberg also was on the ice when Nashville got its first power play of the night at 10:33 of the first when Franzen went to the box for interference.
Rinne, the two-time Vezina Trophy finalist, used his back to block a shot onto the top of the net at 2:13 of the second and had fans chanting "Pekka, Pekka" after a flurry of saves 5:00 into the period.
Rookie Danny DeKeyser, who chose Detroit over teams including Nashville, took a shot that hit off the back boards and around to Zetterberg for the easy tap-in goal at 6:23 for a 1-0 lead. That was Zetterberg's first goal in 11 games.
Nashville had a chance to tie in the third when Bobby Butler got a penalty shot attempt after being hooked by Jakub Kindl on a breakaway attempt at 6:24. But Butler lost the puck before attempting a shot in front of Howard, summing up the Predators' woes in this skid.
Franzen scored on a backhander over Rinne's glove at 17:01 in the third to seal the victory. Nashville took its timeout with 1:57 left and pulled Rinne. Abdelkader had an easy goal at 18:41.
NOTES: Detroit's last road shutout was Oct. 8, 2011, in a 3-0 win at Colorado with Ty Conklin in net. ... DeKeyser got his first NHL point in his fifth career game. ... Franzen's goal was his 300th career point. ... Forsberg became the third-youngest player to play for the Predators at 18 years, 244 days. Only Scott Hartnell (18, 171 days) and Legwand (18, 243 days) were younger. ... Nashville notched its 19th sellout this season in its 22nd home game. ... Nashville D Kevin Klein picked up only his second penalty this season, for slashing, in the second period.