Red Wings-Predators Preview
The Detroit Red Wings enjoyed the comforts of home ice throughout much of the past five-plus weeks, but that will change when they head out of the Christmas break.
The Red Wings will try to kick off their road-heavy stretch by earning a fourth consecutive win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.
Detroit (17-10-7) played 13 of its past 16 games at home, a span which included most of its 13-game point streak - the team's longest in one season since a 20-game run in 2005-06. The Red Wings rallied to top Nashville 5-4 in overtime in one of those games Dec. 5.
Gustav Nyquist netted the winner after Dylan Larkin and Justin Abdelkader erased Detroit's two-goal deficit in the third period, with Abdelkader's tying goal coming on a power play with 2:23 remaining.
The Red Wings, though, are 1-2-1 in their last four after falling into an early three-goal deficit in a 4-3 home loss to New Jersey on Tuesday. They got within one goal on two occasions after Petr Mrazek replaced an ineffective Jimmy Howard in net but couldn't tally an equalizer following Riley Sheahan's goal with 5:37 remaining.
Detroit now opens a three-game trip and plays nine of its next 10 on the road. Coach Jeff Blashill's team has played a league-low 12 road games but is 5-1-3 in the last nine.
"I think we have lots of confidence that we can go on the road and win. We've done it already this year. I think it comes down to playing good hockey," Blashill said. "Obviously, there's some buildings that are tough and we're going to go into some tough buildings but it still comes down to who executes at a higher level.
"I think lots of teams in the league have proven they can win on the road. I think we've proven it, but we better go prove it here in this next stretch."
The Predators (17-11-6) will seek to improve to 3-0-0 on a four-game homestand and match their longest win streak this season. They routed Montreal 5-1 in their final contest before the break Monday with Shea Weber and Colin Wilson each registering a goal and two assists.
"I think it will make the break a little bit nicer. For four days, everyone would be thinking about it after a loss," Wilson said. "It felt good, and we will try to use that momentum after the break."
Nashville, though, has lost six of eight against Detroit while allowing 30 goals.
Tomas Tatar has keyed the Red Wings' three-game win streak in the series with four goals and two assists, but he enters on a season-high four-game point drought.
Weber recorded his first career hat trick in the visit to Detroit earlier this month, and his 14 goals against the Red Wings match his most versus any opponent. The Nashville captain has one goal and five assists in his last three games.
The Predators last won three in a row Oct. 17-22.