Red Wings
4 - 3 Final - OT
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Detroit clinches playoff berth, rallies past Preds in OT

Apr 3, 2011 - 5:34 AM
Nashville, TN (Sports Network) - Danny Cleary's deflection goal with 2:02 remaining in overtime sent Detroit over Nashville, 4-3, at Bridgestone Arena.

After a left-circle faceoff win by Henrik Zetterberg, Brian Rafalski gathered the puck at the left point and shot to the net, where Cleary used the shaft of his stick to redirect it home.

Justin Abdelkader notched a pair of goals for the Red Wings, who clinched a playoff berth with a victory after facing an early 3-0 deficit.

"We were fighting for our lives," Abdelkader said of his club, which was trying to erase the memory of a 10-3 home loss to St. Louis earlier in the week. "It was a battle, and it was a huge road win for us and a big division win."

Jimmy Howard made several key stops en route to a 31-save victory, but Detroit remained No. 3 in the Western Conference after San Jose beat Anaheim later Saturday. The Red Wings have 100 points, one fewer than the Sharks.

Ryan Suter, Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn tallied for the Predators, who fell five points back of Detroit in the Central Division.

Pekka Rinne stopped 37 shots in defeat, but Nashville remains in the thick of the Western Conference playoff chase.

A score from Wings captain Niklas Lidstrom with less than four minutes left in the first on a Wings power play was negated when Tomas Holmstrom, ever stationed at the top of the crease, was sent off for goaltender interference despite evidence of Rinne making more contact.

Holmstrom was then penalized for shooting the puck over the glass on his first shift after exiting the box with the Preds already up a man, and Nashville converted on a point blast from Suter with 60 seconds to go.

Erat slammed in a power-play goal at 1:42 of the second period, then Kostitsyn made it 3-0 at 2:37 and prompted Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock to call a timeout where he essentially read the riot act to his club.

"Everyone knew how important the game was and certainly how we were going to respond to the hole we dug for ourselves," Cleary said.

The move didn't take long to pay off, as Jakub Kindl's floater from the left point put Detroit on the board less than a minute later and Abdelkader made it a one-goal game at 4:49.

"We had a three-goal lead for what, two minutes? Three minutes?" Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. "It didn't feel like we had a three-goal lead and we just gave it up right away. They were right back in the game."

Abdelkader tied the game at 3:59 of the third period, tipping in a Todd Bertuzzi dish.

Howard robbed an open chance from Preds forward Joel Ward at the midway point of the third, stretching out to seal off the post.

Game Notes

Detroit has made the postseason for 20 straight years, having last missed out in 1990...The Red Wings also eclipsed the 100-point mark for the 11th straight season and for the 15th time since 1992-93...Rafalski ended up with two assists, as did Nashville forward Mike Fisher.