The Nashville Predators have shown their superiority over every Central Division opponent but one. They’ll have four opportunities in the next 18 days to change that.
The Predators and Detroit Red Wings face each other each of the next two nights at Joe Louis Arena, and meet twice more before the next month’s Olympic break.
“I don’t know if it’s about setting a tone as much as it is about putting yourself in a pretty good position,” Detroit’s Kris Draper said after the Red Wings won 3-1 in Nashville on Jan. 6. “Every time we look at the standings we look to see what Nashville did because it is going to go down to the wire with them.”
This game was originally scheduled to be played in Nashville but was moved to Detroit as a make-up for the Nov. 21 meeting that was postponed after Detroit defenseman Jiri Fischer suffered a seizure on the bench.
The teams will play a full 60 minutes but the game will begin with the Predators holding a 1-0 lead, the score of the Nov. 21 game before it was halted.
Nashville trails Detroit by three points in the Central Division, and can take sole possession of first place with consecutive victories in regulation over the Red Wings.
The Predators, who have dropped four in a row to the Red Wings, have never led a division later than Oct. 20 in their history.
Nashville is 12-1-1 against Central Division opponents with the lone regulation loss coming to Detroit on Jan. 6. The Predators have earned at least one point in each of their seven games since, going 4-0-3 over that span.
Nashville had a season-high 48 shots on goal and matched its season high for goals scored in Saturday’s 7-2 victory over Columbus. Scott Hartnell and Paul Kariya each had two goals and an assist as 11 players recorded at least one point.
“I thought our whole roster played well,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “That’s how you win in this league. You need 20 guys to contribute. We played a real smart game in terms of puck management.”
The Red Wings have won four straight games after a 4-3 victory over Colorado on Saturday. Robert Lang’s power-play goal late in the second proved to be the game-winner.
Lang has three goals in his last four games.
Detroit’s penalty killing unit has allowed just one power play goal in 18 opportunities over the last three contests. The Red Wings denied a pair of Colorado two-man advantages on Saturday.
“Our penalty killers did a phenomenal job tonight. I didn’t have to do much,” said Manny Legace, who stopped 20 of 23 shots. “They’ve been unbelievable this whole year. You have to give them all the credit. They’re going to get a shot, but they won’t let them get a second rebound. All the sticks were tied up.
“It’s amazing how these guys dedicate themselves.”