NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- — The first game-winning goal of Dante Fabbro’s career came in dramatic fashion.
“Pekka has given us a chance to win every night,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “Fortunately tonight we were able to find a way to win and reward the effort. What he’s doing is making big saves at big times.”
“Frustrating for sure at this point,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “I thought we put ourselves in position to win another hockey game and we didn’t finish it. That’s the step we need to learn to take.”
As the clock dipped just below a minute in the third period, Fabbro sent a wrist shot from the right point through traffic that beat Detroit goalie Thomas Greiss on the stick side aided by a screen from Nashville winger Viktor Arvidsson.
“I’ve got to get it by that first guy and I was able to do that,” Fabbro said. “Great screen in front. I wouldn’t say it was a hard shot by any means, but just get it there and hopefully something good happens out of it.”
Greiss finished with 20 saves.
Ellis scored the game’s first goal at 14:58 of the opening period.
With the Predators on a power play, Filip Forsberg had the puck in the right circle and slid a cross-ice pass to Ellis in the left circle, where he fired a one-timer into the virtually open net behind Greiss.
Forsberg and Predators captain Roman Josi each had a pair of assists.
Fabbri spoiled Nashville’s hope of getting out of the first with a lead when his wrist shot from the left circle beat Rinne just inside the far post with 34.4 seconds left in the period.
“I’m feeling good,” Rinne said. “I feel like I’ve felt good since the training camp. Obviously, I want to show it on the ice and play well and get wins for this team.”
The game looked as though it was headed into the third tied at 1 after a mostly sleepy second, but in the last minute of the middle frame the teams traded goals 14 seconds apart. Duchene gave Nashville another brief lead at 19:19, but Staal answered right back at 19:33 to tie it again.
Nashville added two names to its growing list of injured players. Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm and forward Mathieu Olivier were placed on injured reserve, joining defenseman Luca Sbisa and forwards Brad Richardson and Ryan Johansen.
Ekholm, who missed Monday’s game against Tampa Bay due to the birth of his second child, returned to the lineup for Tuesday’s second half of the back-to-back series with the Lightning but did not play in the third period. He is sidelined with a lower-body injury.
It was the 100th regular-season matchup between the teams. Nashville and Detroit are reunited in the same division due to the NHL’s realignment this season. The Red Wings and Predators were Central Division foes from the time Nashville entered the NHL in 1998 until Detroit moved to the Eastern Conference when the league realigned for the 2013-14 season.
The teams have also met in the playoffs on three occasions, all in Western Conference quarterfinal series. Detroit won the first two matchups in 2004 and 2008, with Nashville taking the series in 2012.
POWER PLAY STRUGGLING
After coming up empty in four opportunities with the man advantage Thursday night, the Red Wings have not scored a power-play goal in their last seven games. They are 0 for 20 during the current drought and have just four power-play goals in 15 games this season.
“We still go over the boards trying to score,” Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. “We care about it a lot. We talk about it every day we’re at the rink. It’s a lot of the conversation. We have to keep it simple. We have to get it set up. Tonight we did a good job of entries, we just didn’t execute in the zone.”
Detroit entered Thursday with the NHL’s second-worst power play success rate at 9.3%, ahead of only Minnesota’s 7.1%.
The teams complete their two-game set Saturday night in Nashville.