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Red Wings 5, Predators 2

The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- Pavel Datsyuk had a goal and two assists and the Detroit Red Wings kept themselves in the driver's seat for a playoff spot with a 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Thursday night at Joe Louis Arena.

The Red Wings are closing in on clinching their 22nd consecutive playoff appearance. It is the longest current playoff streak in North American professional sports.

Detroit, which moves into seventh place in the Western Conference, has one game remaining, which will be Saturday night at Dallas. A Columbus win on Thursday night would eliminate Dallas from playoff contention. Ninth-place Columbus plays host to Nashville in its regular-season finale on Saturday night.

Johan Franzen had a goal and an assist and Valtteri Filppula, Patrick Eaves and Justin Abdelkader also scored for Detroit (23-16-8) in its final home game of the regular season. Jimmy Howard stopped 20 shots.

Mike Fisher and Craig Smith each had a goal and an assist for Nashville (16-22-9), which is out of the playoffs. Chris Mason made 33 saves.

The Red Wings scored three times in the second period to take a 4-2 lead.

Franzen got his seventh goal in seven games just 1:01 into the period and seconds after a Detroit power play. He put in a rebound for his 14th goal to tie it 2-2.

Eaves gave the Red Wings a 3-2 lead just 2:40 later when he scored on a one-timer from the left circle off a nice backhand pass from Jordan Tootoo, who was just inside the blue line. It was Eaves' second goal.

Datsyuk made it a two-goal lead with just 47 seconds remaining in the second period with a power-play goal. He beat Mason with a wrist shot from the high slot on the rush for his 15th goal of the seson.

Abdelkader added his 10th goal of the season late in the third period

Nashville led 2-1 after the first period.

Smith's power-play goal with 7:30 left in the first period broke a 1-1 tie. He scored from a goal-mouth scramble for his fourth goal of the season.

Fisher opened the scoring on the game's first shot, 1:46 in. He completed a two-on-one rush by firing a one-timer past Howard from the bottom of the right circle off a pass from Smith. It was Fisher's 10th goal of the season and was the result of a turnover by Detroit defenseman Jakub Kindl at the Predators' blue line.

Filppula's ninth goal tied the score at 1 with 6:53 gone in the first period. He slid in a one-timer from the inside edge of the left circle.

NOTEs: Detroit forward Johan Franzen, who missed the last few minutes of Wednesday night's 3-1 win over Los Angeles because of an undisclosed injury, was in the lineup on Thursday night. His goal on Wednesday night gave him six goals in his last six games. ... Red Wings forward Todd Bertuzzi has been cleared to play after missing 11 weeks because of a pinched nerve in his back, which has only allowed him to play seven games this season. He didn't play Thursday. ... Nashville recalled forward Joonas Rask from Milwaukee of the AHL and assigned forwards Filip Forsberg and Austin Watson to the same team on Thursday. ... Predators center David Legwand is from the Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe Woods.

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Draft time:
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