Predators 6, Red Wings 4

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The 2013 calendar year was miserable for the Nashville Predators, but it ended on a high note.
The Predators, getting two goals and an assist from center Colin Wilson, beat the Detroit Red Wings 6-4 Monday in a back-and-forth game at the Bridgestone Arena.
Nashville earned its second win in a row. The Predators (18-18-4) were riding a five-game losing streak before they beat the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.
Thirty-five seconds into the third, Detroit center Pavel Datsuk buried a slap shot into the net off a cross-ice pass from defenseman Niklas Kronwall to trim the Predators' lead to 3-2.
Wilson, operating behind Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard, deftly got past a defender and slid the puck to an open Mike Fisher, and the veteran center slammed it home to restore Nashville's two-goal advantage at 5:50.
Detroit (18-14-9) once again cut the lead to a goal when left winger Drew Miller tapped home a loose puck just inches in front of Nashville goalie Marek Mazanek at 11:30, but 37 seconds later, Wilson's back-hander got through to Howard's left.
Detroit responded with a power-play goal from Patrick Reaves, his first of the year, off a Kronwall assist at 14:52.
That brought a nervous tension back to the building, which eased a bit when a tripping penalty to Detroit right winger Todd Bertuzzi gave Nashville a man advantage.
Nashville defenseman Roman Josi added an empty-net goal in the final minute.
The Predators wasted no time in exciting the home crowd. Wilson, slicing between two Red Wings defenders, slammed home a shot from a few feet inside the blue line to give Nashville a 1-0 lead at 1:54 of the first period.
Detroit countered back at 3:00 when right winger Justin Abdelkader, assisted by Miller, slipped the puck past Mazanek to tie the score.
Predators center Craig Smith answered at 9:50, skating along the left side across the blue line and fired an uncontested shot past Howard. The assist went to Paul Gaustad, and the Predators took a 2-1 lead.
Nashville had a great chance to extend the lead when Miller took a double-minor for high-sticking at 12:20 of the opening period, but the Predators couldn't scratch.
Center Nick Spaling put the Predators up by two on a virtual mirror image of Smith's first-period goal. The slapped the puck between Howard's glove hand and the near post at 4:24 of the second period.
The Predators' biggest rivalry was a casualty when the NHL moved Detroit to the Eastern Conference over the spring, but that didn't dampen fan enthusiasm. A sell-out crowd of 17,212 packed the building despite traffic from the Music City Bowl, which ended an hour and a half before face-off, just a stone's throw across the Cumberland River. It was the only time Detroit will play in Nashville this season.
NOTES: Nashville improved to 15-1-2 when it scores first. ... Detroit G Jimmy Howard played for the first time since spraining his left MCL in a Dec. 10 practice. ... Howard's backup, Jonas Gustavsson, was a scratch due to a sore groin, while LW Henrik Zetterberg played on Monday after returning on Saturday from an 11-game absence with back pain. ... Detroit welcomed back C Darren Helm, who had missed the last 11 games since spraining his shoulder in a Dec. 4 loss to Philadelphia. ... In a corresponding move, the Red Wings assigned C Luke Glendening to AHL Grand Rapids. ... Nashville C Craig Smith's first-period goal was his team-leading 11th of the season, and his fifth in his last eight games. He also assisted on C Nick Spaling's second-period goal. ... Following Saturday's three-point game, Nashville C Mike Fisher picked up a first-period assist. He also took a five-minute penalty for a second-period fight with Detroit LW Justin Abdelkader.

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