Nashville Predators 39-21-7
Detroit Red Wings 44-21-3
The Predators look to maintain their offense against Detroit on Saturday night
When the puck drops at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday night, the Nashville Predators will tie the franchise record for most sellouts in a single season at 20 games, and there is no better game to achieve the feat than a renewal of the Detroit-Nashville rivalry.
Last time the teams met on February 17th, it looked like overtime was a certainty until Pavel Datsyuk scored to give Detroit the lead with only 6 seconds remaining in regulation.
Datsyuk won’t be playing on Saturday night. The Russian center is out with a knee injury. Datsyuk isn’t the only notable player missing from the Red Wings lineup.
Helene St. James of The Detroit Free Press reports that forward Todd Bertuzzi won’t be back before Tuesday from his groin injury. Goalie Jimmy Howard is also not expected to return to the lineup before Tuesday. Joey MacDonald would seem like the logical starter against the Predators, however since he picked up the win on Friday night against Los Angeles, Jordan Pearce could get the call to play in goal for Detroit on Saturday.
St. James also offered an update on Captain Nicklas Lidstrom who is out with an ankle injury. Lidstrom has been skating by himself and is on track to return to the lineup at some point next week.
Defensemen Jakub Kindl and Jonathan Ericsson also are out of the lineup with an upper body injury and a broken left wrist respectively.
The injuries have hurt Detroit. A team that looked to be on its way to winning another Central Division title is now fighting for top spot with St. Louis and sits two points back of the Blues. With Detroit’s win on Friday night, Nashville finds itself six points behind the Red Wings in their battle for fourth place in the Western Conference standings. A win Saturday night would bring the Predators to within four points from tying Detroit in the standings.
Saturday night’s game is the third and final time Detroit comes to Nashville during the regular season. The Red Wings have a 3-1 series lead this season, but the teams split their previous two decisions in Music City. Since the beginning of the 2008-09 season, the Predators have recorded at least a point in 9 out of the last 11 games against Detroit at Bridgestone Arena and maintain a 6-2-3 home record against the Red Wings during that span.
Nashville is now one win away from becoming only the second team in the NHL to post at least 40 wins in seven consecutive seasons. Fittingly, the other team to have done so is Saturday night’s opponent, the Detroit Red Wings.