DETROIT (AP) — Viktor Arvidsson scored three times to lead the surging Nashville Predators in a 7-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.
“It’s probably up there for birthdays,” said Arvidsson, who had his third career hat trick on the day he turned 28.
Juuse Saros stopped 25 saves for the Predators, who have won nine of their last 10 games.
Arvidsson and Nick Cousins scored early and late in the second period to put Nashville ahead 3-1.
The Predators were just getting warmed up.
Mikael Granlund scored, Arvidsson had two straight goals — one on a penalty shot — and Yakov Trenin had a goal in the third period.
Arvidsson, who had single-season franchise record with 34 goals two years ago, entered the game with just five goals in 39 games. He was held out of Tuesday’s game at Detroit with an upper-body injury.
“He expects himself to score,” coach John Hynes said. “Hopefully this springboards him into further success.”
Detroit’s Darren Helm broke a scoreless tie early in second period, but the lead didn’t last long because Arvidsson had his first goal 40 seconds later.
“We know we have to outwork and outcompete teams to have a chance of winning games and we didn’t do that,” Red Wings center Luke Glendening said. “We got embarrassed. You can live with mistakes and breakdowns when the work and compete are there, but that didn’t happen.”
Jonathan Bernier had 25 saves while playing for the Red Wings for the first time since a lower-body injury took him off the ice March 18.
“We hung him out to dry tonight, and that’s on all of us,” Glendening said. “Here’s a guy who has been great for us all season and he’s coming back after an injury and we didn’t give him any help.”
Detroit was able to show the scouts at Little Caesars Arena — and those watching on TV — that the 32-year-old Bernier is healthy albeit rusty. The rebuilding Red Wings are likely looking to move Bernier to a contending team that would want a veteran with an expiring contract and 160 wins to be a backup before the trade deadline on Monday.
Despite playing for one of the NHL’s worst teams, Bernier is 8-7 this season, while teammate Thomas Greiss is 3-15-6.
Nashville created a two-goal cushion with a three-goal second period and coasted to its third straight win to stay ahead of Chicago for the fourth place in the Central Division. Four teams from each of the NHL’s four divisions will make the playoffs when the pandemic-altered, 56-game season ends in a month.
“We’ve got 15 games to go and we’ve got to keep the pedal down,” Nashville center Erik Haula said. “It’s a tight race.”
BUMPED AND BRUISED
Nashville forward Mathieu Olivier was ejected midway through the second period with a game misconduct for fighting Adam Erne, who was punched for boarding Predators defenseman Matt Benning. About 5 minutes earlier, Olivier limped to the team’s dressing room as he tried to keep weight off his right skate after blocking a shot.
RETURNING RED WING
Detroit forward Sam Gagner, who potentially could be traded by Monday, played after missing five games with a lower-body injury.
The Predators have players mentioned as possible candidates to be traded, but Haula said the men on the ice can’t control that.
“We’re playing for the Nashville Predators and we’re going to give it all we got,” Haula said. “We want to help this team make the playoffs and make a run.”
HE SAID IT
“There are always going to be places in a season where you take steps forward and steps backward,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said. “Obviously, this is a huge step backward.”
Predators: Have three home games in four days: Tampa Bay on Saturday, Dallas on Sunday and the Lightning again on Tuesday.
Red Wings: Go on the road to play Carolina on Saturday and Monday.
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