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Wings win, tie Preds atop NHL standings

Thursday, 03.29.2007 / 12:00 AM / News
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Wings win, tie Preds atop NHL standings
By The Associated Press

The Wings' Nicklas Lidstrom raises his arms in celebration of Pavel Datsyuk's eventual game-winning goal Thursday at Nashville. (Photo by John Russell)


NASHVILLE -- The Nashville Predators are trying to end Detroit's run atop the Central Division and the Western Conference.

Beating the Red Wings head-to-head would be a good start -- and the Predators haven't been able to do that in a while.

Pavel Datsyuk scored the go-ahead goal in the second period and had an assist, and the Wings beat Nashville, 2-1, Thursday to move back into a tie with the Predators atop the NHL.

The Wings, Predators and idle Buffalo all have 105 points, but Detroit has a game in hand on Nashville with its four of final five games left against Central Division cellar dwellers Columbus and Chicago.

Nashville blew a chance to pad its lead and has four games left to win a franchise-best 50th game. Three of those are at home.

Detroit came into this game having already won the season series with five victories in the first seven games. The Wings finished off the series finale in style with their fourth straight victory against Nashville and 13 of 16 possible points.

Johan Franzen also scored, and Todd Bertuzzi had two assists. David Legwand scored Nashville's only goal.

The Predators weren't happy with the finish.

They got a man advantage with 2:35 left after Franzen tripped over goalie Tomas Vokoun's stickhand. Nashville put Paul Kariya, Peter Forsberg, Jason Arnott and rookie Alexander Radulov out on the power play and pulled Vokoun with 100 seconds left to pressure goalie Chris Osgood.

Bertuzzi assisted on both Wings' goals Thursday. They were his first points since joining the club at the February trade deadline. (Photo by John Russell

Osgood, getting the start in net to keep Dominik Hasek from playing back-to-back games with Dallas visiting Friday night, stopped three shots. Radulov was checked to the ice by Kris Draper trying to keep the puck in the offensive zone, and both wound up in the penalty box.

Nashville took a timeout and had a final flurry in front of Osgood, who finished with 25 saves.

The Predators got on the board first with a second left in a power play. Legwand scored from the right circle at 9:10 of the first period. But Detroit tied it at 14:08 when Franzen took a pass from Datsyuk after just crossing the blue line, skated up the slot and beat Vokoun's glove hand.

Detroit took control in the second and kept the puck in front of Vokoun most of the period. The Wings outshot Nashville, 30-25.

Datsyuk finally put Detroit ahead with a power-play goal at 7:30, his 26th. With a crowd at the crease and the puck near the right post near the line, Datsyuk swept it past Vokoun's blocker as he sprawled on his belly.

GAME NOTES: Detroit improved to 41-10-9 when outshooting an opponent and 31-1-2 when leading after two periods. ... Datsyuk now has 11 assists against the Predators this season, the most by any player in one season against Nashville. He also has scored five goals in the past six games. ... J.P. Dumont had an assist, giving him 19 points in 19 games for Nashville.

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