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Red Wings aim to continue winning ways vs. Panthers

by Alain Poupart /

RED WINGS (27-11-9) at PANTHERS (20-14-10)


SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers, who were headed in opposite directions before the All-Star break, will play Tuesday at BB&T?Center.

The Red Wings will be looking to extend their season-best five-game winning streak when they visit the Panthers, who are trying to end their season-worst four-game skid.

The Panthers also need to win to make up ground in the Eastern Conference standings.

Florida (20-14-10)???is ninth in the Eastern Conference, seven points behind the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals. Florida has played four fewer games than Boston and two fewer than Washington.

Detroit (27-11-9) is tied for the second-most points in the Eastern Conference with the New York Islanders, although New York has a game in hand.

"When you look at that over the break, we're seven points back now,"???Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "Even though we've got four games in hand, we've got to win those games. We've got to make sure we're battling hard. The next 10 games are real big. We've got to battle hard, we've got to stay in that race. If we're going to be a playoff team, we've got to make sure we're winning some hockey games."

This will be the third game between the Red Wings and Panthers this season after two in Detroit in December. Florida won 4-3 on Dec. 2 and 3-2 in a shootout Dec. 12.

"Both games in Detroit, I???thought we went up there and we outworked them a little bit,"???Gallant said. "We competed and we played real hard. When you forecheck real well against that team, you get some turnovers and you get some scoring chances. I thought two of our best games of the season were against Detroit. If we're going to beat them -- they're playing real well -- we've got to play the same way."

The Panthers will be playing the fourth of five consecutive games at BB&T???Center, where they have lost five in a row since a 6-4 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 28.

A???big problem for Florida before the All-Star break was the power play, which produced one goal in 23 attempts over eight games. That goal, by rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad, came at the end of a 5-of-3 advantage.

"We need to work harder on the power play and keep things simple,"???left wing Jonathan Huberdeau said. "It's a privilege to be on the power play and you've got to work. You want to work really hard. We tried to change some stuff on the power play, change the setup a little bit, but tonight we're going to come out hard and get at least one goal on the power play to get a chance."

Detroit's power play has gone 5-for-8 in the past three games and 11-for-26 in the past eight.

Thanks in large part to the power play, Detroit has scored 22 goals during its winning streak.

"We feel like we've been playing pretty well lately up until the break,"???Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser said. "We want to come out of the break and try to keep that going and keep getting wins."

Detroit forward Gustav Nyquist has a goal in each of the past five games against Florida and is the only player on either team with more than one goal in the first two games.

With Jimmy Howard still sidelined by a groin injury, Petr Mrazek will make his eighth consecutive start in net for the Red Wings.

"We've got a good thing going right now and we got a nice few days off and we're looking forward to hopefully continuing the streak going here in Florida,"???said Red Wings forward Stephen Weiss, the former Panthers captain. "It's a big couple games for us."

Here are the projected lineups:


Gustav Nyquist - Henrik Zetterberg - Justin Abdelkader

Tomas Tatar - Pavel Datsyuk - Darren Helm

Stephen Weiss - Riley Sheahan - Luke Glendening

Drew Miller - Joakim Andersson - Daniel Cleary

Jonathan Ericsson - Niklas Kronwall

Kyle Quincey - Danny DeKeyser

Brendan Smith - Xavier Ouellet

Petr Mrazek

Tom McCollum

Scratched: Brian Lashoff

Injured: Jakub Kindl (elbow), Tomas Jurco (back), Jonas Gustavsson (shoulder), Johan Franzen (head), Jimmy Howard (groin)


Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Brad Boyes

Brandon Pirri - Nick Bjugstad - Jimmy Hayes

Sean Bergenheim - Dave Bolland - Jussi Jokinen

Tomas Kopecky - Derek MacKenzie - Scottie Upshall

Willie Mitchell - Dmitry Kulikov

Brian Campbell - Aaron Ekblad

Dylan Olsen - Erik Gudbranson

Roberto Luongo

Al Montoya

Scratched:?????????Tomas Fleischmann

Injuries: Shawn Thornton (groin)

Status report: Thornton will miss his 20th consecutive game, but Gallant said the veteran was just about ready to return and he could be in the lineup when the Panthers face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. … Upshall and Bergenheim return to the lineup after being healthy scratches against the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 19. … Jurco took part in the morning skate, but he wasn't cleared to play. Babcock said he was hoping Jurco returns against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. … Cleary will be back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch for 12 of the past 13 games.

Who’s hot:???????????????????????????Zetterberg has eight points (four goals, four assists) during a three-game scoring streak. … Nyquist's three-game point streak includes three goals and three assists. … Kronwall had four assists in the past three games. … Huberdeau had four goals and four assists in the seven games before the All-Star break.

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