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Red Wings cruise past Predators

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.

Despite Detroit's win, the Columbus Blue Jackets' 3-1 victory over Dallas on Thursday night prevented the Red Wings from clinching a playoff spot. Detroit will need at least a point in their regular-season finale at Dallas on Saturday night to make the playoffs.

"So far so good, we got one more big one to go, we'll take this for what it is," Red Wings' defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "We put ourselves in a good situation, hopefully we can take care of business on Saturday.''

Johan Franzen had a goal and an assist, Valtteri Filppula got his 100th career goal and 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.

"I think that we've been playing pretty well," Filppula said. "And know we just have to make sure we get in the playoffs and hope we keep playing well. That's the plan."

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.

Predators coach Barry Trotz knows how determined the Red Wings are to continue their playoff run.

"Everybody in that room is proud and they know about the streak and everybody in that room doesn't want it to end on their watch," he said.

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 and the second night in a row that he and Tootoo, who are on the fourth line, have combined for the game-winning goal.

"Just contributing feels good. Our line had a great night last night and then we had another great night tonight so we're having fun out there," said Eaves, who is the Red Wings Masterton Trophy candidate after returning at the start of the season from concussion-like symptoms following a broken jaw suffered in November, 2011.

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 season.

Abdelkader added his 10th goal 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. ... Nashville forward Matt Halischuk left the game in the second period with a shoulder injury and did not return. Trotz said Halischuk is definitely out for the final game of the season on Saturday and the injury could be serious.
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