The Detroit Red Wings kept control of their own playoff fate on Thursday night, riding a strong second period to a 5-2 win over the Nashville Predators.
The win put Detroit into seventh place in the Western Conference, one point up on the inactive Minnesota Wild and the Columbus Blue Jackets for the eighth spot in Western Conference standings.
The Predators took a 2-1 lead into the middle frame but couldn’t hold off a rally by Detroit.
Johan Franzen pulled the Wings into a 2-2 tie just 1:01 into the second, collecting the rebound of a Henrik Zetterberg shot at the side of the crease and lifting a shot over the shoulder of Nashville netminder Chris Mason into the top of the net.
Patrick Eaves gave Detroit its first lead of the game 2:40 later. Jordin Tootoo, playing against his former club, carried the puck from the right wing corner out through the faceoff circle and into the high slot before backhanding a pass down lot to Eaves for a snap past Mason to make it 3-2.
With 47 seconds left in the second, Pavel Datsyuk‘s wrister from inside the blue line on a rush beat a screened Mason to give the Red Wings a two-goal lead.
Justin Abdelkader rounded out the game’s scoring with 3:59 remaining in the third period, banging the rebound of a Henrik Zetterberg chance past Mason on an odd-man rush.
Valtteri Filppula tied things back up at 6:53 taking a feed in the slot from Franzen at the side of the net for a wrister past Mason.
Nashville regained their lead with 7:30 left in the first, with Craig SMith getting to a rebound in a goal-mouth scramble and putting a shot in behind Howard while on the power play.
Howard finished the night with 20 saves on 22 shots. Mason stopped 33 of 38 chances against.
Each team had one power play goal on the night, with Nashville having five chances with the man-advantage to Detroit’s four.
The Red Wings will close out their season on Saturday with a visit to the Dallas Stars. They can clinch a playoff spot with a point in that game, a Columbus loss to Nashville on the same day, or the Wild failing to earn a point in either of their two remaining games.