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Preds jump Wings in standings with win - USA TODAY

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Preds jump Wings in standings with win - USA TODAY
Mar 31st 2012, 02:44

DETROIT -- The 500th win in the Nashville Predators' 14-year history fittingly came against the opponent that has proven to be the most challenging for them to beat.

  • Predators right wing Alexander Radulov and Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom battle for the puck in the third period of their Friday game.

    Rick Osentoski, US Presswire

    Predators right wing Alexander Radulov and Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom battle for the puck in the third period of their Friday game.

Rick Osentoski, US Presswire

Predators right wing Alexander Radulov and Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom battle for the puck in the third period of their Friday game.

The Predators downed the Detroit Red Wings, 4-1, Friday night on the strength of Pekka Rinne's 31 saves to provide coach Barry Trotz with his 500th career win and to move past Detroit into fourth place in the Western Conference standings. The Predators, who have never finished ahead of Detroit, are now one point ahead of the Red Wings in the race for the final West playoff position that offers home-ice advantage.

Trotz was handed the game puck as he entered the Nashville dressing room. "I think it was (David Legwand), which was fitting because Leggy has been with me the longest," said Trotz, who is the only coach in the franchise's history.

He is the fifth coach in NHL history to record 500 wins with one team, joining Al Arbour (New York Islanders), Lindy Ruff (Buffalo), Billy Reay (Chicago) and Toe Blake (Montreal). Predators general manager David Poile, meanwhile, becomes the first GM to record 500 wins with two separate teams. He also had 500 wins with the Washington Capitals.

Poile and Trotz exchanged a hug after the game.

"Getting the win against (Detroit) probably has some significance because we have probably played them more than anyone," Trotz said. "…we know a lot about each other."

Poile said the day before the game that he views the Red Wings as the "gold standard" of NHL success and his objective in Nashville has always been to emulate the Red Wings' consistency of postseason success.

With only four games remaining in the regular-season, Trotz said the team would only take "an hour" to enjoy a victory, which seemed as important as a playoff win. "Then we have to focus on the Chicago Blackhawks," he said.

The Blackhawks, only three points behind the Predators, are in Nashville Saturday night for a game.

"(The win against Detroit) doesn't mean anything right now," said Nashville captain Shea Weber. "It gives us confidence to win in this building, but if we don't win tomorrow…"

If the Predators lose to Chicago, then it will be both the Blackhawks and Red Wings in hot pursuit over the final week of the season.

Alexander Radulov, recently returned from the Russia-based Kontinental Hockey League, produced a goal and an assist for Nashville, giving him five points in five games since rejoining the Predators. The Predators' hope is that he can lead the team offensively in the postseason.

"Rads was really good," Trotz said. "He was dynamic. This is the first time Detroit had seen him for a couple of years, and (it's like) us dealing with (Pavel) Datsyuk and some of the special things he can do."

Nashville's win means that Detroit has no mathematical chance to catch St. Louis for the Central Division title, but the Predators still have a long-odds shot.

Curiously, the Predators took charge against Detroit in the second period, while the Red Wings were out-shooting them 17-8.

The game was scoreless for more than 33 minutes, and then Gabriel Bourque opened the scoring with a shot through traffic to beat Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard who returned to the lineup after missing four games with a groin injury.

"I thought it was a pretty good hockey game," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. "I thought we had some good looks, particularly in the second period. I thought our power play was pretty good. I thought their goaltender made some real key saves, in particular the one on Z."

Babcock was talking about the stop Rinne made on Henrik Zetterberg with 3:03 left in the second period. Had Rinne not been able to make a lunging glove save the game would have been tied 1-1.

"That's Pekka Rinne," Trotz said. "…He makes the save that's incredible and then we came back and scored. It's the big save you."

Nashville agitator ordin Tootoo helped create Nashville's first goal with quality forechecking effort. He also fed the pass to Bourque.

" I also thought it was one of those games, when you score first, you get a little bit better," Babcock said. "When the game got to be two, we didn't have as much opportunity."

Earlier, Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom rang a shot off the post.

Defenseman Francis Bouillon gave Nashville a 2-0 lead when he moved in from the point to find a loose puck and drive it by Howard with 33 seconds remaining in the second period. Radulov netted Nashville's third goal early in the third period after being set-up for a goalmouth tap-in on a nifty pass by Andrei Kostitsyn.

Jiri Hudler ruined Rinne's shutout opportunity when he scored with 3:03 left in the game. Zetterberg drew the assist. With 39.4 seconds, defenseman Shea Weber scored into an empty net for his 17th goal of the season.

"I still thought we took a step as a team and that's what matters to me," Babcock said. "I keep saying that. We've got to get playing way better than we have, and feeling better about ourselves. I thought it was a positive step through two periods. "

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