Coming off their first regulation loss of the season, the Nashville Predators begin a five-game road trip hoping to reach a milestone.
The Detroit Red Wings have other plans.
Nashville seeks its first 4-0-0 road start in franchise history Saturday night when it visits Joe Louis Arena, where Detroit has dominated the Predators throughout their existence.
Nashville (5-1-3) fell 3-0 to St. Louis on Thursday night, becoming the last NHL team to pick up its first regulation defeat. The Predators were shut out for the second time this season, providing no offensive help for Pekka Rinne(notes), who made 31 saves.
Rinne and rookie Anders Lindback(notes) have played a large role in the Predators being among the top contenders in the Western Conference. Rinne has a 1.88 goals-against average and Lindback has gone 3-0-1 with a .925 save percentage.
“We’ve just got to pull our game together in a lot of areas,” coach Barry Trotz said. “We have to be detailed. … Our goaltenders have won us some games. We can’t rely on them every night, we’ve got to do our share.”
The loss also ended a string of seven consecutive one-goal games for the Predators in which they went 4-0-3. Five of their last eight meetings with Detroit have been decided by one goal, including the last two.
The Predators have earned at least one point in 23 consecutive one-goal games, going 18-0-5 dating back to a 4-3 shootout loss at the New York Islanders on Feb. 9.
After joining the 2005-06 club as the only Nashville teams to start 3-0-0 on the road, the Predators now play nine of their next 10 away from home.
The Red Wings (5-2-1), meanwhile, are set to finish a four-game homestand they’ve started by winning two of three.
The lone loss snapped Detroit’s three-game winning streak Thursday when it fell 4-2 to Phoenix despite putting 45 shots on goal. The Red Wings fell behind 3-0 and couldn’t recover, losing a home contest in regulation for the first time this season.
“I thought they were a lot hungrier than we were,” captain Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) said of the Coyotes. “I thought they came out with a better jump. I thought they were quicker on pucks and they capitalized on their chances they got, too. They got one power play, one short-handed, one even strength. It’s hard to give a team a 3-0 lead and try to come back from it. It’s very tough.”
It became even tougher when goalie Jimmy Howard(notes) was scratched with back spasms after he participated in the morning skate. After giving up three first-period goals, backup Chris Osgood(notes) settled down and stopped all 21 shots he saw over the final two periods before the Coyotes added an empty-net goal.
Osgood appears set to start again Saturday after Howard missed practice Friday.
Despite having 11 points, Detroit sits in last place in the competitive Central Division. The Red Wings have the most points of any last-place team in the NHL.
This will be the first meeting between the teams in 2010-11. Last season, Detroit posted a 4-1-1 record against Nashville, including a 2-0-1 home record to improve to 24-4-5 with two ties all-time against the Predators at Joe Louis Arena.