DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Red Wings got a great performance in net and plenty of offense at the other end of the rink — including a rare power-play goal — to earn a much-needed win.
Jimmy Howard made 33 saves for his first shutout of the season and Drew Miller scored an early goal as Detroit snapped a season-high, five-game losing streak with a 4-0 victory over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.
“We put everything to rest,” Howard said.
The previously reeling Red Wings still have plenty of work to do to prove they are a playoff team, but holding onto a lead for a change is an improvement for them.
Detroit led 2-0 in three of the losses during its skid.
“When you haven’t won, it doesn’t matter what the score is, the lead’s never safe,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “It’s just a confidence thing. Confidence in pro sports comes and goes in a hurry, so this is a big win for us.”
Tomas Tatar gave Detroit a two-goal lead early in the second, and Niklas Kronwall made it a three-goal cushion late in the period.
“The third goal was the back-breaker for our team,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said.
Detroit didn’t waste its first 3-0 lead of the season, but instead added to it with Daniel Cleary’s goal on a power play midway through the third period.
Pekka Rinne gave up those three goals on just 17 shots and finished with 23 saves for the Predators.
The Red Wings didn’t need another goal to win, but they were desperate for some success on the power play. They got some when Cleary raised his stick to redirect Kronwall’s slap shot.
“It was big,” Cleary said. “We got some guys moving and we got some shots. We were talking all day about getting more shots.”
During its five-game losing streak, Detroit scored only one goal on 17 power plays.
Nashville, playing on consecutive nights, has lost two straight and four of five.
The Predators had won seven of eight against Detroit, including last year’s first-round playoff series, but lost this one despite outshooting the Red Wings.
“Got to find a way to score,” Nashville defenseman Shea Weber said. “Chances aren’t going to win the games.”
Detroit made the most of its second chances to score against Rinne, who matched a season high by allowing four goals.
“I’m comfortable putting him in net every night,” Trotz said before the game. “You always get an argument from Pekka, ‘Shea Weber plays every night, and everybody else plays every night. Why shouldn’t I play every night?’ That’s what the great ones do, they just want to play.”
Miller scored off a rebound 5:11 into the game to perhaps relax the reeling Red Wings. Tatar lifted a loose puck high and into the net 2:58 into the second period.
Kronwall’s one-timer fluttered past Rinne, who had an obstructed view of the shot as Cleary was tangled up with teammate Scott Hannan in front. That gave the Red Wings a 3-0 lead at 15:33 of the second.
Howard made nine saves in the third period to seal his 12th career shutout.
“He was really good early when the game was right on the line,” Babcock said. “They were better than us early, and he was good. Really good for him but more importantly, good for us. We needed the win.”
NOTES: Nashville D Hal Gill left the game in the second period because of a lower-body injury, and Trotz said he didn’t have a timeframe for his possible return. ... The Red Wings will host Northwest Division-leading Vancouver on Sunday and plan to play Jonas Gustavsson to give Howard a break. ... In the Predators’ previous seven games, they had given up only goal on 20 power plays. ... Detroit hopes two of its banged-up players — Todd Bertuzzi (back) and Brendan Smith (hip) — will return in about a week.
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