Red Wings hand Predators second straight shutout

Paul Harris, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- The Detroit Red Wings desperately needed a win and they got one.
Jimmy Howard made 33 saves for his 12th career shutout, Niklas Kronwall had a goal and two assists and Detroit snapped a five-game winless streak (0-3-2) with a 4-0 victory over Central Division-rival Nashville on Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Drew Miller, Tomas Tatar and Danny Cleary also scored for Detroit (8-7-3), which had fallen to 11th in the Western Conference standings. Pavel Datsyuk contributed two assists.
"We put everything to rest there. Things weren't going our way," Howard said. "We weren't really paying attention to detail, and tonight we got the performance from every single one of us."
Pekka Rinne stopped 23 shots for Nashville (8-7-6). It was the second shutout loss in two nights for the Predators, who fell 1-0 to the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night.
"The last two nights we generated a lot of chances but we couldn't find the back of the net," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said.
Miller opened the scoring 5:11 into the first period when he was able to reach around Rinne and poke in a rebound for his second goal of the season.
"We got the puck in deep and tried to establish our cycle," Miller said. "Patty (Eaves) got the puck back up to Kronner (Kronwall), who got the shot at the net and the rebound, I was trying to be strong up front and got the rebound.
Howard, who got his first shutout of the season, denied Sergei Kostitsyn from inside the right circle 3:11 into the third period and made several big saves in the first period.
He went across the crease to stop Colin Wilson when the puck came off the backboards about seven minutes into the game and Howard thwarted Matt Halischuk on a breakaway and the rebound with nine minutes left in the first.
"It's just seeing it well out there," Howard said. "We're doing a great job again tonight in front of me at clearing out guys and allowing me to see the puck, and when goalies see the puck in this league they're going to stop it."
Said Trotz: "The first period was Howard. It was all Howard. He was outstanding in the first."
Detroit scored twice in the second period for a 3-0 lead.
Tatar's third goal of the season, 2:51 into the second period, made it 2-0. He picked up a loose puck beside the Nashville net and put it under the crossbar.
Kronwall got his second goal of the year with 4:27 remaining in the second period. His one-timer from the high slot fluttered past Rinne.
Cleary added a power-play goal with 8:12 left. He tipped in Kronwall's shot from the point for his third goal of the season.
"It was huge," Cleary said. "We didn't even need to say anything about that before the game because everybody knows in the shortened season, the margin for error is almost nil."
NOTES: Hockey Night in Canada reported that a proposed realignment plan for next season would see Detroit moving from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference, which is something the Red Wings have lobbied for a long time. Howard likes the possibility. "I think it would be great for us from the travel. Even though we're all used to it now. We know how to deal with it," he said. "We've traveled back and forth, across the United States quite a bit. To move to the Eastern I think that would be a lot of fun to play a lot of games in the Eastern Time Zone. It would be great for our fans too, not having to stay up until all hours of the night to watch us." ... Nashville defenseman Hal Gill left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. Trotz said there was no time frame for his return. ... Detroit right winger Jan Mursak cleared waivers on Saturday and was sent to the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids. ... Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey didn't play because of a sore left ankle. He joined a long list of Detroit regulars out because of injury that includes forwards Johan Franzen (hip flexor), Todd Bertuzzi (back), Darren Helm (back) and Mikael Samuelsson (broken finger) and fellow defensemen Brendan Smith (shoulder) and Carlo Colaicovo (shoulder). ... Nashville center Paul Gaustad missed his third game with an upper-body injury. ... Predators right winger Brandon Yipp was a healthy scratch. ... After Buffalo's firing of coach Lindy Ruff, Trotz is the longest-tenured NHL coach. He has been behind the Predators' bench since they came into the league for the 1998-99 season.

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