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Datsyuk returns, but Red Wings fall to Panthers

by Alain Poupart

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Pavel Datsyuk was impressive in his return to the lineup Tuesday night, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Florida Panthers from beating the Detroit Red Wings for the second time in four nights.

After rallying from a 2-0 deficit in the third period, Aleksander Barkov and Brad Boyes scored in the shootout to lead the Panthers to a 3-2 win at BB&T Center.

"Beating them twice in a short period is pretty nice," said Panthers center Nick Bjugstad, who tied the game with 5:32 left in regulation with a spectacular individual move. "They've got a lot of good players, a lot of experienced players. So I think it says a lot about the guys in the locker room. We've got some good leadership going on right now. Hopefully we can keep that going."

Boyes ended the game in the second half of the third round with a wrist shot through Jimmy Howard's legs. Tomas Tatar scored for Detroit in the shootout.

Boyes leads all active players with 35 career shootout goals and is 4-for-5 this season.

"It's good to contribute, whichever way I can," said Boyes, whose last shift ended with 7:37 left in the third period. "If the shootout is the way to do it, I'm happy with that."

The Panthers improved to 3-4 in shootouts this season; Detroit is winless in five.

The Red Wings have scored twice in 15 shootout attempts this season; their goalies have allowed seven goals on 13 attempts.

Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall hit the post with a slap shot from the point midway through the overtime period.

"You want to leave here with two points and feel good about yourself," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "You win the shootout, you feel good about yourself. You don't win in the shootout, I have to answer questions you guys [reporters] are asking."

Sean Bergenheim also scored in regulation for the Panthers, who have won three of four overall.

The new Atlantic Division rivals met for the first time Saturday in Detroit, with the Panthers winning 2-1. They will meet three more times, with the next game scheduled for Dec. 28 at BB&T Center.

Tim Thomas, making his 15th start in 16 games for the Panthers, finished with 24 saves.

"That was a big win," Thomas said. "Down 2-0 going into the third period, to come back like that, it's a great thing."

Back after missing seven games because of a concussion, Datsyuk had a goal and an assist for the Red Wings, who have lost six times (9-3-3) this season when leading after two periods, more than any team in the NHL.

"You're up two goals on the road, you're in a good situation, and being up two after two, we would have taken that," Howard said. "But we've got to either find a way to score the next one or have the ability to shut them down."

Todd Bertuzzi scored for the Red Wings, who came in with an NHL-best 10-3-1 record on the road. Johan Franzen added two assists, giving him seven goals and 10 assists in 14 games since coming back from an upper-body injury.

Howard made 25 saves for Detroit. He came into the game with a 1-4-4 record with a 2.92 GAA in his previous nine starts. Jonas Gustavsson started back-to-back games against the New Jersey Devils and Panthers. The loss against Florida on Saturday was Gustavsson's first in regulation this season after an 8-0-1 start.

Babcock indicated that Gustavsson would start Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"I thought Jimmy played good," Babcock said. "When you get to the shootout, I don't worry about the goaltender stuff. I thought Jimmy played well; I thought their goalie did too."

Detroit led 2-0 going into the third period before Bergenheim and Bjugstad tied the game.

Bergenheim made it 2-1 at 5:00 when he deflected Dmitry Kulikov's wrist shot from the point.

Bjugstad then tied the game at 14:38 with a spectacular individual effort that began when he beat Datsyuk along the boards. Bjugstad eventually skated to the side of the net before beating Howard with a high shot to the short side.

"It felt pretty good," Bjugstad said. "I knew he was kind of on my side. I put forth an extra effort because I know he's a good player. He's strong on the puck, he's good defensively obviously. It was nice, a little confidence-builder there to be able to do that. I watched him growing up quite a bit, watched a lot of highlights on YouTube of him."

Datsyuk is a three-time winner of the Selke Trophy, awarded to the best defensive forward in the NHL and has been a finalist six times, which made Bjugstad's goal even more impressive.

"That's a world-class goal," Panthers interim coach Peter Horachek said. "He comes out of the corner with Datsyuk and comes and takes it to the net. He's one of the best players in the League for a reason. That's a big-time play for Bjugstad. He should get that framed."

Datsyuk, who had been out since being injured by an elbow from Ottawa Senators defenseman Jared Cowen on Nov. 23, scored his team-leading 13th goal at 6:47 of the second period when he stood to the left of the net and redirected a nifty pass from the right point from defenseman Jonathan Ericsson.

The goal was Datsyuk's sixth in 11 career games against Florida to go along with 11 assists.

Datsyuk had another great scoring chance later in the second period after a Florida turnover in the defensive zone, but his backhand from close range went wide.

Datsyuk picked up an assist when Bertuzzi opened the scoring with a power-play goal 10:26 into the game. Datsyuk stood in front of the net when he deflected Franzen's wrist shot from the top of the left circle. Thomas made the save, but Bertuzzi was standing alone in front of him and easily was able to put home the rebound.

The Red Wings appeared to have taken a 1-0 lead two minutes earlier, but Ericsson's goal on a shot from the point was immediately waved off when it was ruled that Daniel Cleary had interfered with Thomas.

"We started out pretty good the first two periods and then in the third I don't know what happened," Ericsson said. "I have no explanation except we were terrible out there. We made it hard on ourselves and easy on them. [We] just invited them into the game again.

"We didn’t execute and they took advantage of that and got some nice shootout goals."

Detroit center Stephen Weiss, the Panthers' all-time leader in games played and assists, played his first game at BB&T Center since leaving Florida last summer. He was kept off the score sheet for a second consecutive game against his former team, although he did have a great

scoring chance on a third-period power play that was denied by a blocker save.

Highlights of Weiss' career with the Panthers were shown on the center-ice scoreboard in the first period.

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