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Preds clinch playoff berth in Detroit…

Once again, more than 60:00 was required to decide a winner between the Detroit Red Wings and the Nashville Predators.

This time, however, it only took 60:16.

Preds defenseman Ryan Suter skated into the Red Wings zone uncontested and wristed a shot past Jimmy Howard, giving the visitors their 46th win of the season and retaining their 5th place slot in the Western Conference standings.

The Predators had a 3-2 lead at the end of two and kept that lead until Howard left his net to give Detroit an extra attacker in the final minute of regulation. Pavel Datsyuk tied the game with just 0:37 remaining, however, sending Joe Louis Arena into a frenzy. The game went into overtime as a result, giving Nashville it’s highly coveted playoff berth with the one point earned.

Suter wasted no time making sure both points were secured.

On the other end of the ice for the Preds, Rinne turned aside 28 Detroit shots to earn his 31st win of the year.

If the Red Wings had come away with the overtime (or shootout) victory, they would’ve tied Nashville for 5th place (98 points). But, with the loss in the extra session, Detroit is kept at bay with 96 points.

In theory, the next game for Nashville might just be for 4th place as they travel to Phoenix to take on the Coyotes on Wednesday. If the Yotes lose to the Edmonton Oilers tonight, then the showdown for 4th is on. (For the record, the two teams would only be tied in points. Phoenix would still have a game in-hand on Nashville and thus would have the same amount of points in the least amount of games.)

I was on location at Joe Louis Arena and the blog recaping the whole experience will be up Monday afternoon.

GAME NOTES:
* This was only the 2nd win over Detroit this season for the Preds. It was also the third to go into overtime.
* Nashville is 5-2-1 while Jason Arnott has been out of the lineup with his most recent injury.
* Four of the Preds’ last six games have required extra time to decide. They’re 3-0-1 in those games.
* The game on Wednesday against the Coyotes could very well be a first round playoff series preview.