Predators clip Wings 4-3 to clinch playoff spot

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DETROIT (AP)—The Nashville Predators aren’t about to rest on their laurels just because they’ve clinched a postseason berth.

Ryan Suter’s(notes) goal 16 seconds into overtime Saturday gave the Predators a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings that secured Nashville’s spot in the playoffs.

J.P. Dumont(notes), Shea Weber(notes) and Martin Erat(notes) also scored for the Predators. Pekka Rinne(notes) made 28 saves.

“We do feel good about it (clinching a playoff spot),” Dumont said. “But we want to make sure we get as good a position as possible.”

Nashville is fifth in the Western Conference with 98 points with two games remaining. Detroit is sixth with 96, two points ahead of seventh-place Los Angeles. The Red Wings have four games left and need any combination of their own two points or two points lost by Calgary for a playoff spot.

Pavel Datsyuk(notes) had a goal and an assist and Brian Rafalski(notes) and Nicklas Lidstrom(notes) also scored for the Red Wings, who had their seven-game winning streak snapped. Jimmy Howard(notes) stopped 20 shots and Tomas Holmstrom(notes) assisted on all three goals.

“We battled back and got a point,” Lidstrom said. “On the other hand it’s disappointing losing in the first shift of overtime.”

Suter beat Howard from the right circle for his fourth goal.

“Howard’s been stoning me all year, so it’s was good to get one by him,” Suter said.

Howard gave his view of the winner.

“It was unfortunate. They got a lucky bounce,” he said. “He (Suter) walked in top of the circle and made a nice shot over my pad, blocker side.”

Datsyuk tied it with 36 seconds left in regulation, with Howard pulled for the extra attacker, on a one-time shot from the left circle. It was Datsyuk’s 26th goal.

“They scored a big goal, but we came back and scored a bigger one,” Dumont said.

Nashville coach Barry Trotz reached a couple of milestones. He was behind the bench for his 900th game with Nashville to become the sixth coach to reach that mark with one team. He joins Al Arbour (New York Islanders), Billy Reay (Chicago Blackhawks), Lindy Ruff (Buffalo Sabres), Jack Adams (Detroit) and Toe Blake (Montreal Canadiens). The win was also Trotz’s 410th, which ties him with Scotty Bowman for sixth place in wins with one team. Bowman won 410 with Detroit.

“It’s one of those things that you never think about but, before the game, you look up on the TV and they’ve got some graphic with these names like Scotty Bowman and you see your name up there,” Trotz said. “It’s one of those things where you want to get your name on the jersey and the picture for the kids.”

Dumont’s goal with 43 seconds left in the second period gave Nashville a 3-2 lead. He put in a one-timer from the inside edge of the left circle for his 17th goal.

Lidstrom’s ninth goal tied the game 2-2 with 3:59 left in the second period. He beat Rinne with a slap shot from the high slot along the inside edge of the left circle.

The Predators scored twice in the first 5:01 of the second period to take a 2-1 lead.

Weber’s 15th goal, 1:36 into the middle period, tied the game 1-1. He scored on a slap shot from the right point that glanced off Tomas Holmstrom’s stick. Erat’s 21st goal at 5:01 gave Nashville the lead. He carried the puck around the net and his turnaround shot from the right circle deflected in off the skate of Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg(notes).

Rafalski’s power-play goal opened the scoring with 1:45 left in the first period. He slid a shot from the bottom of the left circle under Rinne’s pad for his eighth goal.

NOTES: Detroit RW Dan Cleary missed his fourth game with a sore groin. … Referee Kerry Fraser, who is retiring at the end of the season, worked his 1,900th career game. … It was Howard’s 25th consecutive start. Detroit coach Mike Babcock said Chris Osgood(notes) would start Sunday in Philadelphia. … Holmstrom has two goals and seven assists in his last five games. … Nashville C Jason Arnott(notes), who has missed the last eight games due to a concussion, could return against Phoenix on Wednesday, Trotz said.

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Goalie Team Shot Save
Pekka Rinne Nsh 31 28
Jimmy Howard Det 24 20


Saturday, Apr 3