Mired in their longest losing streak of the season at the end of January, the Detroit Red Wings have responded with some of their best hockey of the season.
The Red Wings go for their fifth straight win Tuesday night when they face the Nashville Predators, who have been making a push for a playoff spot this month.
Detroit (35-11-7) knocked off Pittsburgh 3-0 on Sunday in a rematch of last season’s Stanley Cup finals. Pavel Datsyuk scored twice to extend his point streak to eight games, and he has three goals and four assists during the Wings’ winning streak.
The Red Wings went 0-4-1 from Jan. 17-31, but they’ve gotten back on track and pushed their lead in the Central Division to 11 points.
More scoring has keyed Detroit’s February rebound. The Wings managed 14 goals during the five consecutive losses, but have scored 20 in the last four games.
The offensive resurgence has been led by players like Datsyuk and Marian Hossa, who scored for the fourth consecutive game Sunday - his 30th goal of the season that gave Detroit a 2-0 third-period lead. Hossa has six goals during the winning streak.
“I tried to put everything on the backhand I had and I tried to shoot it pretty quick,” said Hossa, named the NHL’s Second Star of the week Monday. “I was just hoping it would get there. It kind of surprised me (it went in).”
Detroit killed off each of Pittsburgh’s four power plays after thwarting all three of Edmonton’s chances with the man advantage in Saturday’s 8-3 win.
The Red Wings are still one of the league’s worst penalty-killing teams at 77.8 percent, but they’ll be facing a Nashville club that’s gone six straight games without converting on the power play.
Detroit’s Ty Conklin notched his sixth shutout of the season Sunday with 25 saves, but he’s 0-2-0 with a 3.54 goals-against average in two career starts in Nashville. He made 28 saves in a 3-2 loss at Nashville on Dec. 26, the teams’ first meeting of the season.
The Predators (25-25-3) will be opening a four-game homestand at the Sommet Center, and play 10 of the next 12 there. Nashville, three games out of the final playoff spot heading into Monday’s action, had its season-high four-game win streak snapped with a 4-1 loss to Dallas on Sunday.
Nashville went 4-8-0 in January.
After surrendering four total goals in the previous four games, the Predators gave up two in the opening 20 minutes Sunday - the first time they allowed more than one goal in the first period since surrendering four in a 7-2 defeat to Atlanta on Jan. 17.
“We know we have to get a better start than we did tonight,” left wing Steve Sullivan said.
Jason Arnott scored the Predators’ lone goal against the Stars, giving him 20 for the 10th consecutive season. He became the franchise’s first player to reach the 20-goal mark in three straight seasons.
Arnott, though, has one goal in his last 11 games versus Detroit.
Dan Ellis suffered through another tough outing Sunday, allowing three goals on 21 shots, and is 1-5-0 with a 3.35 GAA in his last seven starts. Ellis, though, made 38 saves against the Red Wings in the teams’ December matchup.
The Predators have taken three of the last five regular-season matchups at the Sommet Center.