Three second-period goals were enough to get the Nashville Predators the one point they needed, but it took Ryan Suter’s goal 16 seconds into overtime for them to defeat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 Saturday at Joe Louis Arena.
Nashville clinched its fifth playoff appearance – all in the last six seasons – once the game extended beyond regulation.
Suter’s wrist shot from the right wing circle was the first for either side in overtime. When it beat Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard it became the second-fastest overtime goal in franchise history.
Detroit tied it 3-3 when Pavel Datsyuk scored with 36.4 seconds to play in regulation.
With two regular season games remaining, the Predators still can finish anywhere between fifth and eighth place in the Western Conference. With this victory, though, they held on to fifth place and gave themselves a two-point lead over Detroit, which started the day in sixth.
J.P. Dumont capped the second-period scoring and gave Nashville a 3-2 lead with 43 seconds to go before the second intermission. It was Dumont’s 17th of the season – one more than in 2008-09.
Detroit led 1-0 after one period but Shea Weber and Martin Erat each scored in the first 5:01 of the second and put the Predators up 2-1. Nicklas Lidstrom got Detroit even 3:16 before Dumont scored.
Goalie Pekka Rinne made 28 saves and improved to 31-15-5 for the season. The only goalie in franchise history with more wins in a single season was Tomas Vokoun (36 in 2005-06 and 34 in 2003-04).
Rinne has been in nets for nine of the Predators’ last 10 victories.
Nashville closed to within one point of locking up a playoff berth with Thursday’s 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues at Bridgestone Arena. It had a chance to clinch Friday without even playing, but Calgary defeated Colorado 2-1.
The Predators are 6-12 in all-time playoff contests and have yet to win a series – or even to extend a series to the full seven games.
Only 11 of the players on the current roster have appeared in the postseason for the Predators.