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'Not good enough': Red Wings feisty, but fall to Predators

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — For about 40 minutes, the Red Wings were the better team Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators. But it was those opening 20 minutes that hurt the Red Wings badly.

They spotted a good Nashville team two quick goals and the Predators held on for a 3-2 victory at Little Caesars Arena.

The loss ended a seven-game winning streak that Detroit had over Nashville, though it came somewhat close to being extended.

“We had some good chances for sure,” forward Justin Abdelkader said. “Nashville is a good team, and to spot them two goals, it’s tough to get back. But we worked hard and won battles and got pucks to the net.

“It’s just one goal short again, which can be frustrating.”

The Red Wings (24-26-9, 57 points) have lost three of four games overall, while the Predators (36-14-9, 81 points) have won four of their last six.

Andreas Athanasiou and Tomas Tatar scored for the Red Wings.

Scott Hartnell, Kyle Turris and Viktor Arvidsson answered for the Predators.

BOX SCORE: Predators 3, Red Wings 2

Hartnell and Turris scored in the opening 10 minutes of the game, giving Nashville a 2-0 lead.

Tatar cut Nashville’s lead to 3-2 at 7:54 of the third period, just after a Red Wings power play expired. On a scramble around goalie Juuse Saros (34 saves), the puck squirted from one side of the crease to the other, where Tatar was there slip the puck in for his 16th goal.

The Red Wings finished the final 28 seconds with a 6-on-4 advantage after Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban interfered with Abdelkader and goalie Jimmy Howard (26 saves) was pulled.

But the Predators held on, narrowly escaping with the victory.

Afterward, the Red Wings all pointed to those opening 20 minutes as the difference in the game.

“First period wasn’t good enough,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “They outcompeted us, outskated us and out-detailed us. We have to be better than that.”

And they were, although it was a tough too late.

“Definitely we got off to a bit of a slow start,” Howard said. “As the game progressed, we were real good.”

With the trade of goaltender Petr Mrazek 24 hours earlier, and rumors of maybe several other Red Wings being moved, many folks are assuming the season is essentially over.

But the Red Wings were adamant after Tuesday’s morning skate they aren’t done yet.

“We have lots of fight in us,” Blashill said.  “As somebody gets traded, you can think about who you lost but I tend to always think about who we have and we have lots of good players in here that give us a great chance to win on a nightly basis and we’ve proven that.

“When we lose tough games like we did the other night, when something like that happens, you have a trade like we did, it’s easy for lots of people to say we’re finished.

“We’re not finished.”

If the Red Wings play as fast and gritty as they did the final 40 minutes, the final six weeks of the season could still be worthwhile.

They intend for that to happen.

“The guys in this locker room have not given up,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said.