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(Sports Network) - The Nashville Predators' goal of capturing their first-ever Central Division title isn't going to be an easy one to accomplish.

The Detroit Red Wings have seen to that with their torrid play over the recent month. The five-time defending Central champs have won five consecutive games and are a sizzling 10-2-1 since January 9, closing within a single point of the Predators' lead atop the division.

Nashville has contributed to that narrowing of the gap as well. The club has lost three of its last four contests and put forth a dull effort its most recent time out, when the Predators were handed a 4-1 defeat Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

The young and talented Penguins made Nashville look like a tired team that was playing its fifth road game in six outings. The Predators generated few good scoring chances and hurt themselves immensely by committing nine penalties, which gave Pittsburgh's potent power-play unit seven opportunities.

"We took too many penalties," admitted head coach Barry Trotz. "We had six through the first two periods, and not only does that expend a lot of energy on your bench, but it doesn't allow everybody to get into the game."

A return to the friendly confines of the Gaylord Entertainment Center may be able to get Nashville back on track. The Predators will play seven of their next eight games in the Music City and start up a three-game homestand with a showdown against the surging Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.

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