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Sullivan, surging Predators pound Red Wings

Nov 26, 2006 - 3:44 AM NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- The Detroit Red Wings have been the class of the Central Division for over a decade. But they may have a tall task this season in beating out Steve Sullivan and the Nashville Predators.

Sullivan recorded three assists and the Predators erupted for five goals in the second period en route to a 6-2 triumph over the struggling Red Wings.

It was the fourth victory in the last five games for Nashville, which finished second in the Central last season while Detroit cruised to its fifth consecutive division title.

But the Predators have jumped out to a tremendous start in 2006-07, winning 15 of their last 19 games after opening the campaign with three straight losses.

"They are a very good team," said Nashville coach Barry Trotz, whose club improved to 1-1 against the Red Wings this season. "This was probably atypical of a Detroit team. This is a heavyweight fight for eight rounds, and this was only round two."

Saturday's victory was even more impressive considering Nashville was without star goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who will be sidelined up to six weeks with a torn thumb ligament.

Chris Mason filled in admirably, turning aside 32 shots to win for the second time in as many career meetings with Detroit.

"They gave it to us in their building, and we wanted to get them back here," said Mason, who improved to 4-1-1 this season. "We are fighting for first place in the division. I've felt good so far this season. I just want to try to help the team hang in there while Tomas is getting better."

The Predators gave Mason more than enough support as six different players tallied. Defenseman Kimmo Timonen netted a power-play goal with 1:32 left in the opening period to forge a 1-1 tie, and Nashville never looked back.

"We were the fresher team, and we wanted to take advantage of it," Sullivan said. "We have a lot of firepower, and we are going to get scoring from a lot of different guys."

"The guys in front of the net are doing a great job of screening the goalie and tipping the puck," Timonen added. "Special teams are huge. Any time we can score on the power play, it is going to give us an advantage."

The Predators took the lead for good on J.P. Dumont's goal at 6:33 of the second period. Sullivan carried the puck down the left wing before slipping a cross-slot feed to Dumont, who backhanded a shot between rookie Joey MacDonald's pads.

"We had a young goaltender in their net, and we wanted to throw a lot of pucks at him," Sullivan said. "Lucky for us, they went in."

Rookie Alexander Radulov, defenseman Marek Zidlicky, Scott Hartnell and Paul Kariya also tallied in the middle session for Nashville, which went 3-for-7 on the power play.

"We did a lot of good things offensively," Trotz said. "They had a young goalie in there, and we wanted to attack the net better in the second period than we did in the first, and it paid off for us. On the power play, we've been managing the puck. When we keep it simple, we are very successful."

"The second period was a disaster," Detroit left wing Henrik Zetterberg said. "They scored five goals. That can't happen, that's not good at all."

MacDonald made 21 saves in just his second career start.

"The game can change in a hurry," he said. "We had a bad second period. Other than that, it would have been a good game."

"You got a young guy playing in your net for the second game of his career," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock added. "You want to do everything you can to not give up the shots, and that wasn't the case tonight at all."

Zetterberg and Robert Lang both tallied for Detroit, which is on a season-high five-game skid.

"You can't leave here as a coach or as a player and not be disappointed," Babcock said.

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