Jonathan Huberdeau's goal 3:29 into the third period broke a tie and lifted the to a 2-1 victory against the Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
The Panthers outshot the Red Wings 28-14 in the final two periods. Florida was idle Friday night; the Red Wings won 3-1 on the road against the New Jersey Devils.
"I thought it was lack of energy for sure. You try to fight through it the best you possibly can," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said after his team fell to 5-6-6 at Joe Louis Arena. "We had a game last night, they sat in our building, hung out and waited for us. There's no excuse for anything, you got to find ways to win games."
Huberdeau snapped a 1-1 tie when he took a pass from Shawn Matthias to the right of goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, made a quick step to his right and whipped a backhander into the net for his seventh goal of the season.
Tim Thomas, a native of Flint, Mich., stopped 22 shots to help the Panthers (9-16-5) win back-to-back games for the second time this season. He got a break when Drew Miller's shot with a little more than five minutes left in regulation hit the left post then made a good stop on Johan Franzen's spinning backhand.
"This is one of the toughest buildings to play in," Panthers interim coach Peter Horachek said. "We wanted to play with energy. They had to play last night.
"We just wanted to work both ends of the rink."
Dan Cleary had the goal for the Red Wings (15-9-7), who again played without forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Gustavsson made 35 saves but lost in regulation for the first time in 10 decisions. He was 8-0-1.
"We stopped skating, I don't think it has anything to do with the energy. I don't know what it is," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "We have to be a lot more desperate and determined than that. We stopped skating and started watching hockey instead of playing."
It was the second regulation victory for the Panthers in their 12 visits to Joe Louis Arena and their first since winning 4-2 on Dec. 1, 1996. They are 3-5-3-1 in Detroit since entering the NHL in 1993. The Red Wings fell to 5-6-6 at home this season.
Detroit nearly scored in the game's first minute; Panthers forward Tomas Kopecky dove to knock away a loose puck just outside the crease an instant before Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey could put it into a wide-open net during a scramble.
The Red Wings kept attacking and opened the scoring at 4:06. Justin Abdelkader drove down the right side and flung a bad-angled backhander Thomas stopped with his pad. But Cleary, who snuck unchecked down the left side, grabbed the rebound and fired it into a half-empty net for his second goal of the season and first since Oct. 14.
Florida amped up its game in the second period, outshooting the Red Wings 17-5 and pulling even at 2:59 when Jimmy Hayes, acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks last month in the Kris Versteeg trade, poked a loose puck into the net. Gustavsson thought he had held Matthias' wrister from the lower left circle; however, the puck got away from him, Hayes found it and nudged it into the net for his third goal of the season.
Huberdeau said Hayes' goal was a key.
"When the other team scores the first goal, we usually struggle, kind of back on our heels," Huberdeau said. "But we were able to get the tying goal."
Hayes barely missed putting the Panthers ahead with a little less than three minutes remaining in the period when his backhander from the slot beat Gustavsson but clanked off the crossbar.
It was the first game against the Panthers for longtime Florida center Stephen Weiss, who signed with the Red Wings as a free agent during the summer. Weiss has two goals and four points in 25 games.
Material from team media was used in this report.