Feb. 26—DETROIT — Sam Gagner didn't score a goal in his first 13 games but made up for lost time Thursday — with a bit of help from Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne.
Gagner scored two seeing-eye goals, then ended things with an empty-net goal, lifting the Red Wings to a 5-2 victory over Nashville — the five goals, a season-high for the offensively-starved Wings.
Gagner scored the tiebreaker — his second goal — midway in the third period. Gagner had the puck between the goal line and circle, went to his forehand and beat Rinne through the legs at 9:58.
Adam Erne gave the Wings (6-13-3) some insurance with his second goal, at 16:22, making it 4-2. Again it was another sloppy rebound by Rinne off a Wings' rush, Erne easily tapping the puck past Rinne.
Gagner had the same formula on his first goal, successfully getting the puck simply on net, breaking a 1-1 tie in the second period.
Just after a Red Wings power play failed to convert — that's 14 games and 40 consecutive failed power plays — Gagner got control of the puck in the corner.
Gagner snapped a shot toward the Predators net — from a terrible angle, almost behind the net — that somehow just between Rinne and the goal post.
The Wings carried the play most of the evening, but appeared to lose some momentum after Nashville (8-11-0) tied the game 2-2 early in the period.
The Predators' Erik Haula scored his first goal at 2:55 of the third period.
Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis lifted a shot from the point that Haula, screening goaltender Jonathan Bernier, redirected and got wide of the goaltender.
Luke Glendening had the other Red Wings goal, while Bernier, gradually taking over the bulk of the work in net, stopped 37 shots, as the Wings split the two-game series.
Mikael Granlund (power play) had the first Predators' goal.
Nashville rebounded from Gagner's goal giving the Wings a 2-1 lead and pressed the Wings, the Wings' penalty-killing coming through seconds after Gagner's goal, and surviving a prime Nashville scoring opportunity in the final seconds of the second period when Roman Josi failed to get stick on the ice for a potential tap in goal.
The Wings opened the scoring with Glendening's second goal, both against Nashville this season.
Showing the tenacity the Wings were missing in Tuesday's loss, Glendening drove to the net, was stopped by Rinne, but while sprawling to the ice Glendening backhanded a shot past Rinne.
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But Nashville's power play, which was so explosive in this two-game series, came through with its third goal in two games, tying the game.
Granlund gathered Josi's shot from the slot, was stopped by Bernier in close, but quickly gathered the rebound and backhanded the puck past Bernier for his fourth goal.