TIME: Tuesday, 8 p.m. EST.
After a disastrous end to 2002-03, the Nashville Predators' chances of making the playoffs this season were considered slim.
Another win over the Detroit Red Wings, however, could move the Predators closer to the top of the Central Division.
The Predators look to extend their home unbeaten streak to 12 games and try to cut their deficit in the division when they meet the first-place Red Wings for the fifth time this season.
After joining the NHL for the 1998-99 season, Nashville finished no higher than 10th in the Western Conference in its first five seasons.
The Predators had high hopes of qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in team history last season, but they ended with a 15-game winless streak to finish 13th in the West.
This season has been a different story for Nashville.
The Predators have their best record ever at this point in a season, and are just eight points behind the Red Wings for first place in the Central.
Nashville, one of the best home teams in the NHL, is 9-0-2 in its last 11 games at Gaylord Entertainment Center after beating the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks 3-2 in overtime on Saturday.
"Every game we play, it's kind of a joke," Nashville leading scorer Scott Walker said. "We come in here and say, `This is the biggest game of the year.' Then we come back the next game and say, `This is the biggest game of the year.'
"They're all huge for us because we are playing so many teams in our conference."
One of those teams is the Red Wings, who Nashville has beaten three of four times this season after winning just six of the first 27 meetings in the series.
Detroit comes in on a three-game unbeaten streak, but the Red Wings now know they can't look past the Predators.
"They always play us tough," Detroit defenseman Jason Woolley said. "They play it simple. To keep losing to the same team is frustrating."
Down 4-1 after two periods Saturday, Detroit scored three times in the third to earn a 4-4 tie with the Carolina Hurricanes and improve to 1-0-2 in its last three contests.
"Two bad periods, but the third was good," Holmstrom said. "We started to get the puck down low and more people going to the net."
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