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US NHL

Witkowski, Mrazek lift Wings over Predators

Luke Witkowski scored the first goal of his four-year career, Petr Mrazek made 31 saves and the Detroit Red Wings downed the Nashville Predators 3-1 on Saturday in Nashville.

Witkowski, who played his first three seasons with Tampa Bay, was appearing in his 74th career NHL game. He had not recorded a point for the Wings in 19 previous outings.

“That was great to see,” teammate Gustav Nyquist said of Witkowski’s breakthough goal. “I thought he had a great game. He’s so strong on the puck.”

Nyquist and Darren Helm also scored for the Red Wings in their road victory. Justin Abdelkader, Anthony Mantha, Nick Jensen, Danny DeKeyser and Frans Nielsen added assists.

Craig Smith scored the Predators’ only goal, P.K. Subban notched his 30th assist and Juuse Saros made 31 saves.

Nashville went 1-for-5 on the power play, while the Red Wings came up empty in two opportunities with a man-advantage. Detroit players willingly gave up their bodies to hold down the Predators, blocking 26 shots compared to eight Nashville blocks. Defenseman Niklas Kronwall blocked six by himself.

Witkowski scored on a breakaway 4:12 into the contest just after entering the ice. He took a pass from Mantha, then backhanded the puck past Saros.

Nyquist’s 16th goal at 10:54 of the period made it 2-0. He tipped in Nick Jensen’s shot from the point.

Both teams had seven shots on goal in the first. The Predators squandered two power-play opportunities.

Mrazek kept the Predators at bay until a too-many-men penalty gave Nashville a power play with 5:42 remaining.

Subban sent a long pass to Smith, who got behind the defense and beat Mrazek on the glove side. Saros was also credited with an assist.

A tripping penalty against Kyle Turris with 2:15 remaining complicated Nashville’s chances of getting a tying goal, but Kronwall was whistled for holding with 1:30 left.

However, Helm ended all suspense 11 seconds later by firing in an empty-net goal from his own blue line.

--Field Level Media

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