NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Detroit got goals from Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Justin Abelkader, and a terrific performance from goalie Jimmy Howard, as the Red Wings earned a 3-0 over the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena on Sunday evening.
The Red Wings had a tough time against Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, who turned away 31 shots. But Detroit got huge breaks that led to two goals, and Howard (22 saves) was even better, giving Detroit a much-needed victory to snap a three-game losing streak.
The win gave Detroit (20-15-7) its 46th and 47th point, good enough to break out of a three-way tie with Dallas and Columbus in the Western Conference standings and into a deadlock with Minnesota at the 7-spot.
Nashville, riding a five-game losing streak and losers of eight of its last nine games, had little to play for with just 38 points and five games to play after this one.
But the fact that the hated Red Wings were in town is always enough to draw a crowd in Music City, and with the building sold out and the fans roaring beforehand for this nationally-televised game, there was plenty of energy in the building.
The Predators had some great chances to get ahead in the first period by virtue of a 2-0 power play advantage and a 13-9 edge in shots, but the first period ended without a goal on either side.
That all changed in the second period, during which Detroit out-shot Nashville, 16-4.
The Red Wings had two great chances on an early second-period possession after picking off a pass as Nashville was attempting to clear the puck past its blue line, but Rinne made spectacular deflections of both.
But not two minutes later, Zetterberg, stationed to the left side of Nashville's goal, was in the right spot at the right time. Teammate Danny DeKeyser, not far past the blue line, fired what looked like a harmless shot from the right side that sailed right of the post. The puck hit the board and went right to Zetterberg's stick, as he easily cashed in for his ninth goal of the season.
The Predators did manage one terrific look on Matt Halischuk's breakaway late in the period. But Howard made a great pad save to preserve the shutout as Halischuk tried to slip the puck into the 5-hole.
At 13:34 of the third, Nashville had an even better look as Detroit's Jakub Kindal hooked Bobby Butler from behind on a breakaway and knocked him to the ice.
Officials awarded Nashville a penalty shot, but Butler lost control of the puck and whiffed on his own shot attempt as he pulled within about two feet of the goal to Howard's left.
Any chance the Predators had to tie was lost with 2:59 left in the game. Nashville's Chris Mueller was working along the boards inside the Predators' blue line to clear the puck, but flipped it right to Johan Franzen in front of Nashville's net for another easy goal.
Abelkader added an empty-netter after Nashville pulled Rinne with just over a minute to play.
NOTES: Nashville, the NHL's second-worst scoring team, remained hampered with the scratches of forwards Mike Fisher, Brandon Yip, Patric Hornqvist, Paul Gaustad and Gabriel Bourque. That opened the door for recently-acquired Filip Forsberg, whom the Predators acquired recently by trading Martin Erat to Washington, to make his NHL debut on Sunday night within the game's first minute. Forsberg, a center, was the 11th player taken in last year's draft. ... Earlier in the day, Detroit assigned defenseman Brian Lashoff, who's played 31 games this season, to Grand Rapids. Coach Mike Babcock said Lashoff's play had been "excellent," but the team has nine healthy defensemen and the Red Wings wanted the 22-year-old rookie to get some ice time.