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Red Wings score quickly, often in win over Preds

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News

Detroit — Home on the road for a half-dozen games and then back home for the first one in more than half-a-month.

Good teams, bad teams, best teams in the Western Conference and best team in the NHL.

It hardly matters to the Red Wings right now.

They just keep rolling.

Quickly dispatching any concerns about the first home game after a long road trip, and after a big win Thursday against the Blues, the Wings scored three times in the first 12:32 Saturday to get the jump on the hot Predators, Saturday, in a 5-2 win.

"That was a big part of the game, starting on time," Mike Babcock said. "We got off to a real good start.

"I like the way we scored. We did lots of good things, at times. And we got a little loose, at times."

It was a consecutive victory in which the Wings dispatched a former Western Conference foe with a five-game winning streak, heading into the game.

"To be honest, I was really excited and looking forward to this game," said Tomas Tatar, who scored twice, in a three-point night, and has 20 goals in 45 games.

"They are probably the best team in the league right now, by the points. I think we did a really good job the whole game and we deserved those two points.

"The whole team is really good right now; all the lines. It is fun to be on the ice when you are winning and getting the points."

The Red Wings opened the scoring at 57 seconds when Tatar started in his own zone with a pass off the shaft of a Predators' stick that went directly to Riley Sheahan, skating up the right wing at center ice.

Sheahan, whose hands continue to impress, deftly fed Gustav Nyquist across ice and in stride.

Nyquist swatted it up and by the Predators goalie Carter Hutton, making his eighth start of the season.

"We got on them pretty quick and we were skating right from the start," Sheahan said. "I guess it's confidence, and I've got two line mates who do a pretty good job of getting open and they finish well, too."

It would not be Hutton's night.

The Wings got a goal by Kyle Quincey, whose shot from the blue line appeared to bounce off two Predators before eluding Hutton at 11:22.

Pavel Datsyuk assisted.

Then, Tatar collected a puck as he skated in from the blue line and sent a wrist shot just to the right of Sheahan, who appeared to completely screen Hutton.

Nyquist and Niklas Kronwall assisted.

At 2:15 of the second period, after Paul Gaustad was whistled for holding for the Predators, Henrik Zetterberg banked a shot of the back of the head Hutton's replacement, Marek Mazanec, and it went into a top corner, under the crossbar for the Wings fourth goal.

Tatar added his second goal, on the power play, late in the second period. It was his 20th goal of the season.

He was set up nicely by Sheahan, once again, and Stephen Weiss.

The Wings now have 41 power-play goals this season, by far their best performance since the loss of both Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski, from the point, in consecutive seasons.

Mike Fisher got the Predators' final goal on the power play to start the third period.

Petr Mrazek, starting his third consecutive game, stopped 34 out of 36 shots.

He is now 4-0 in his last four starts.

"They played last night. We were able to jump on them early," Babcock said. "The other thing was, it was an emotional game for them, last night," he said of the Predators' 4-3 defeat of the Capitals, who brought the Predators former coach for 15 seasons, Barry Trotz, into Nashville for the first time.

"They played a good team in Washington. They were the two hottest teams coming in.

"I think the emotion in that probably didn't help them, tonight.

"But the schedule is what the schedule is. We needed the two points, we got them."