The Nashville Predators lost more than a game Tuesday against Chicago. They lost control.
A 4-2 defeat dropped them to ninth place in the Western Conference standings and created a situation in which simply winning their remaining two games might not be enough to make a fifth straight postseason appearance.
“Our mindset coming into this last week was we have to run the table,” forward Steve Sullivan said. “And we didn’t. We didn’t think two out of three… was going to be enough. Now we have to hope it is.
“We still have to go in and win two games. But now we have to look for some help.”
They play at Detroit on Thursday (6:30 p.m.) and at Minnesota on Friday (7 p.m.).
It is a difficult double for the Predators, who have lost three of their last four.
They have just two victories in the last three seasons (10 games) at Joe Louis Arena. They have won three of five overall against the Red Wings this season but never have won a season series against the Central Division’s perennial front-runners.
A day later, they have to play at Minnesota, where they have won just twice in their last 11 trips. Of course, one of those was earlier this season — a 2-0 victory on Feb. 6.
The Wild remained in the playoff chase when they won Tuesday and closed within a point of Nashville.
“We’ve had five real tough games in the last little while that our guys have not faltered on and have not quit on, and they’re not going to quit until the end,” coach Barry Trotz said. “We have a daunting task in Detroit. We’ll hopefully go into Detroit and take care of business and go into Minnesota and have to take care of business and probably get a little bit of luck along the way.”
The Predators’ first playoff berth — back in 2003-04 — came after the 81st game of the season and with some help. They lost at home to St. Louis but hours later celebrated in a downtown Denver hotel after another team was beaten and, consequently, eliminated.
It might be even later this season before they know their fate.
“We have two tough games coming up and we’ll see what happens,” captain Jason Arnott said. “Right now we have to focus in on Detroit and come away with two points.”