Mike Fisher and Colin Wilson helped make sure Jimmy Howard's return from a knee injury didn't go as well as he and the Red Wings had hoped.
Fisher had a Gordie Howe hat trick -- a first-period assist, a second-period fight and a goal and an assist in the third period -- and Wilson scored twice to lead the Nashville Predators past the Red Wings 6-4 at Bridgestone Arena in Detroit's final game before the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
Rookie Marek Mazanec made 21 saves for the Predators (18-18-4), who came into the game next-to-last in the NHL in scoring with 89 goals.
"It's not very often we score six goals, so it was pretty fun to be a part of it," Wilson said. "I think we were just trying to get pucks on the net from everywhere, and that's how pucks start going in."
Howard, who hadn't played for nearly three weeks after being injured Dec. 10, was beaten by two of the first five shots he faced. Wilson and Craig Smith scored before the game was 10 minutes old, Nick Spaling added a goal early in the second period, and Fisher, Wilson and Roman Josi scored in the third to help the Predators end 2013 with back-to-back victories at home.
"We've got to start winning some games, getting some points," Smith said. "We've got to start climbing back. This was a good team to do it against. We've just got to keep it going and keep moving in the right direction."
"It wasn't pretty. I felt like I was behind the play all night. I really didn't get comfortable in there," he said. "Whenever you score four goals, you should win. The guys deserved better; they really battled hard. I didn't do my job.
"It was the first time in three weeks that I was out there, but the guys deserve better. They deserve saves."
The Predators knew Howard was coming off a lengthy layoff.
"We just tried to get pucks to the net from everywhere, and pucks started going in," Wilson said.
The Red Wings face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Winter Classic on New Year's Day (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS). They are scheduled to practice on the outdoor rink at Michigan Stadium on Tuesday.
"Obviously, we'd like to go in on a positive note," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "We gave up too many [goals], but we'll go home, get some rest and enjoy practice [Tuesday]."
Wilson gave the Predators the early lead by scoring on Nashville's first shot against Howard. He raced down the middle into the Detroit zone, was given room to shoot and let go a wrist shot that appeared to hit a defenseman's stick before sailing past Howard for his sixth goal of the season. Fisher got the second assist.
The lead lasted all of 66 seconds. Abdelkader bulled his way out of the left corner with the puck and lifted a short backhander that beat Mazanec at 3:00 of the first. Abdelkader's fourth of the season came on Detroit's second shot.
Nashville iced the puck as the first period neared the halfway mark, and Detroit coach Mike Babcock loaded up his forward line by putting Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg together. Nashville's Paul Gaustad won the draw in his own zone and got the puck to Smith, who went coast-to-coast before beating Howard from the left circle for his team-high 11th of the season at 9:50.
Spaling gave the Predators a two-goal lead 4:24 into the second period when he called his own number on a 2-on-1 break and beat Howard from the right circle for his seventh of the season.
The Red Wings stepped up their game at the start of the third period and made it a one-goal game 35 seconds after the opening faceoff. Nashville captain Shea Weber made a bad clearing attempt that was picked off by Niklas Kronwall at the left point. The defenseman's diagonal pass found Datsyuk near the right faceoff dot for a one-timer past Mazanec. It was Datsyuk's 15th goal of the season and his 799th NHL point.
But Fisher, who fought Abdelkader late in the second period, made it 4-2 at 5:50 when he swept home a feed from Wilson, who had started the play with a takeaway in the Detroit zone. It was Fisher's third goal in two games. He scored twice in the final 3:18 on Saturday to give Nashville a 3-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings.
"It was just a matter of time, especially with the guys I'm playing with," Fisher said of his offensive surge.
Miller shoved home a loose puck at 11:30 to cut the margin to 4-3, but Wilson restored Nashville's two-goal lead 37 seconds later when he took a pass from Seth Jones, cut around the defense and found himself alone in front before lifting a backhander over Howard. Fisher, who started the play, earned his second assist of the night.
That turned out to be the winner when Eaves scored his first of the season on a power-play one-timer with 5:08 remaining to make it 5-4. Josi hit the empty net with 18.6 seconds remaining.
It was the Red Wings' only trip to Nashville this season. The teams had played at least four times in every season since the Predators entered the NHL 15 years ago, but with the Red Wings now in the Eastern Conference, they face each other only twice. Nashville won both games; this one drew an above-capacity crowd of 17,212.
"It's always fun," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said of playing the Red Wings. "There are a lot of Detroit transplants. We've played them a zillion times in the past number of years, and it's good to see a lot of old faces."
Material from team media was used in this report.
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