PREDATORS (10-7-4) at RED WINGS (13-7-1)
TV: FS-Tennessee (HD), FS-Detroit (HD)
Last 10: Nashville 5-3-2; Detroit 8-2-0
Season Series: Saturday marks the first of six clashes between these Central division foes. Last year, the Predators claimed the season series from the Wings with four victories in six head-to-head games.
Big Story: Detroit ended the Boston Bruins' 10-game win streak on Friday with a 3-2 victory in the 2011 NHL Thanksgiving Showdown, earning its fourth straight win in the process. Nashville, meanwhile, is headed in the opposite direction after opening a five-game road trip with its third straight defeat on Wednesday in a 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild.
Predators: After earning at least a point in 10 of 11 games spanning from Oct. 27 to Nov. 19, Nashville is suddenly in the midst of a three-game losing skid. The Preds had a chance to take down the Northwest Division-leading Wild on Wednesday in the second game of a back-to-back stretch, but could not cling to their 1-0 lead in the third period. Minnesota reeled off three unanswered goals on Pekka Rinne to turn the tide of the game
But Nashville refused to back down as Jordin Tootoo, who scored the game's opening goal, found Ryan Suter for a power-play tally with 6:03 remaining. The Preds ultimately fell in St. Paul, 3-2, but coach Barry Trotz was encouraged by his team's effort coming off a 6-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers a day earlier.
"It was a thousand times better than [Tuesday night]," Trotz said. "We had better focus, we stayed with the game plan longer and I wish we would have gotten a point or two out of it.”"
Red Wings: Pavel Datsyuk
and Henrik Zetterberg
have struggled to produce points consistently this season, but their consistent play as of late finds Detroit on another lengthy win streak. Datsyuk and Zetterberg have four- and three-game points streaks, respectively. Together with the strong play of goaltender Jimmy Howard
, who has won eight of his last 10 decisions, the Red Wings are finally hitting their stride on both ends of the ice.
"We had a little bit of a good start, then we kind of slowed down, then we went up the hill again," Datsyuk told NHL.com. "I hope [that] we just keep going up the hill. Like, up the hill [and keep gaining momentum]."
Who's Hot: After posting only 3 assists in his first 19 games of the new season, Tootoo has totaled 2 goals and 2 assists in his last two games. … Datsyuk has 4 goals and 4 assists in his last four games.
Injury Report: Jan Mursak
(ankle) is on injured reserve and remains out indefinitely for Detroit. … Teemu Laakso (upper body) is expected to miss Saturday’s game for the Predators.
Stat Pack: Friday's win over the Bruins marked the third time this season the Red Wings have put together a streak of at least four straight wins -- with all 13 of the team's wins coming in the midst of those three separate win streaks.
Puck Drop: "There's a fine line between winning and losing," Tootoo told The Tennessean. "We have to play 60 minutes, both ends of the rink. We have to be more disciplined."