NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Now that Detroit Red Wings' five-game skid is really a thing of the past.
Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk each had two goals and an assist for the Red Wings, who held off the Nashville Predators 5-3 Tuesday night for their fifth straight victory.
Detroit has bounced back from its worst stretch of the season. The Red Wings were winless between Jan. 17-31 - spanning the NHL All-Star break - but got back on the winning track on Feb. 2 against St. Louis and haven't lost since.
"I think our energy level is better," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "We talked about that quite a bit. We had no energy there for a period of time. We have more energy now, and we're attacking better and I think that's real important."
Zetterberg said the Red Wings have gone through their rough times and are ready to focus on the 25 games or so left until the playoffs.
"We have to work on those things that we need to get better on," he said.
The Red Wings came out fast and outshot Nashville 27-8 in the first period. They are the only franchise to put up at least 50 shots against Nashville, and they did it for the fourth time - holding a 51-21 edge.
"Usually, they come out flying and most of the time they're up one or two goals early," Zetterberg said. "Today was our turn and still they found a way to come back."
Zetterberg has 18 points in his past 15 games. Datsyuk scored a power-play goal and added an empty-netter with 12 seconds left. Marian Hossa also had a power-play goal, and Brian Rafalski added three assists.
"We showed them way too much respect and gave them way too much space," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said.
Detroit led 3-2 going into the third when Zetterberg scored his second of the game with a backhander over Pekka Rinne's shoulder at 3:10 for his 20th goal. Ward pulled Nashville within 4-3 when he scored under Ty Conklin's outstretched glove at 10:36.
"That third period I should have managed, but I made a mistake and it was a tough one," Rinne said.
The Predators came in having won five of seven since the All-Star break. They also took the first game between these teams on Dec. 26.
Detroit wasted little time in tying the season series, scoring twice in the first. The 27 shots matched the most shots against the Predators in a period, a mark set by Detroit in Nashville's fifth game as a franchise on Oct. 21, 1998.
"I thought we played a real good game," Babcock said.
Zetterberg scored on a rebound of Rafalski's shot, putting the puck over Rinne as the goalie was on his stomach with his head in the net at 5:02 of the first. Datsyuk, who assisted on the first goal, made it 2-0 at 10:17 with his 23rd - scoring during a power play with a snap shot from outside the back edge of the left circle.
At one point, the Red Wings outshot Nashville 15-2 and had Rinne hanging over to catch his breath during a break in play.
Hossa made it 3-0 when he scored from the left circle at 4:17 of the second, with assists from Niklas Kronwall and Jiri Hudler.
The Predators finally got going when Tomas Kopecky put them on their first power play after crashing into Rinne at 5:22 of the second. Just eight seconds into the advantage, Jason Arnott sent a shot from near the blue line that Bonk redirected past Conklin. Ward pulled Nashville within 3-2 as he tapped in a rebound of Ryan Suter's shot from the blue line at 11:23.
"Every night nowadays is like a playoff game," Conklin said. "The big thing for us sometimes is to match the other team's intensity, especially when teams are in that mind-set."
Notes: The 35 combined shots after the first period set a Nashville record. Detroit outshot the Predators 27-8, a 19-shot deficit that was a season high for Nashville and tied for the second-largest in franchise history. ... Arnott has six points in six games. ... Hossa has seven goals in five games. Datsyuk has 12 points in seven games, and Rafalski has six assists in four contests.
Head Coach Barry Trotz
On Detroit’s play tonight and how Nashville responded…
One of the things that I said before the game with Detroit is that they are a very good team and they’ve been a good team for a long time. You can’t respect them too much. We showed them way too much respect and gave them way too much space. The one thing that they do have is the No. 1 power play in the National Hockey League and you can’t sit there and watch them and be on the wrong side of pucks and battles. They know that traditionally we are pretty good quick-start team and they jumped on us early. We sat and watched way too much and there’s an element of respect for a good team, but you can’t give them too much respect and we did that.
On Detroit’s five goals…
Tonight their top players got all of their goals. Their top players were good tonight, there’s no question about that.
On Detroit scoring goals despite injury…
Their top guys that control the puck are Lidstrom and Rafalski, Datsyuk and Zetterberg and their other players have to make sure that they get in front and are a menace. With those guys controlling the puck, it’s a lot easier for the other guys to be a menace in the net. They are missing Holmstrom, who is, by far, the best guy at it. Cleary’s no slouch either, he’s been pretty good for the last couple of years and people have been out, so he’s learned from a couple of guys who are really good. They just took advantage of it.
On Nashville’s mistakes…
We can’t give them six and seven power plays. We just dug ourselves a hole and kept trying to dig ourselves out but the first period was in a hole and they are too good of a team. I think they are 23-0-3 when leading after one period, so they don’t give you a whole lot of chances to get back in the game. We tried coming back, there’s no question about that.
On Pekka’s goaltending…
Obviously in the first, I thought he held up well. Pekka would probably tell you that he wanted that third goal back for sure and with that one, we were building some momentum there and we still got it to a one goal game with nine minutes to go so I thought Pekka handled it pretty well.
On Nashville’s strategy to get back in the game…
We just talked about it. We wanted to go out and start skating and take one-on-one battles and play the way we can play. We just didn’t play. We watched and didn’t participate. They are too good of a team.
Forward Joel Ward
On lacking energy first period…
We kind of got ourselves into a little trouble since we didn’t come out mentally as strong, and we handled some things bad, including myself. We made a few mistakes and we just need to learn how to capitalize more.
They’re one of the top teams in the leagues and you if you give them more shots, then you’re going to get yourself into more trouble. We started off slow but we tried to battle through it. We settled down and refocus, and that’s the main thing; instead of over-thinking and just go out there and relax and whatever happens, happens.
On if his goals were wasted…
I knew we had to pick it up a bit if we wanted to win this game. Obviously we came up short again, so what can you do? Get ready for tomorrow.
Defenseman Greg Zanon
On the first period…
We didn’t really burn anything; we didn’t show up for the first period. Just like the last couple games, and Trotz just said after that we need to pick it up. We did and came out harder in the second period. We battled hard going into the third period down 3-2, a pretty good position against those guys. We were battling and we just need to start coming out with a better start. A couple weeks ago we were coming out flying and we have to start making some results happen or we’re going to find ourselves in an embarrassing place.
Being at home…
I think we’ve gotten off to a pretty good start this month and we’ll get back on track. We definitely don’t have an easy schedule this month even though we’re at home a couple road games. We have St. Louis and they’re playing really well and Boston this Saturday and they’re going to be battle games for us. We’re going to have to be mentally ready.