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Weiss has big night in Florida homecoming

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Stephen Weiss accepts congratulations from teammates after his second-period goal gave the Red Wings a 4-2 lead over the Panthers. (Photo by Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings)

SUNRISE, Fla. – It was a big deal when Stephen Weiss first returned to BB&T Center in something other than a Florida Panthers’ sweater.

But that was last season.

Still the Panthers’ franchise leader in assists and games played, Weiss says he’s over the melancholy emotions of returning to his NHL roots.

“I think last year, the first time, was a little strange but that’s kind of over and done with now,” Weiss said following Tuesday’s morning skate. “Just another game on the schedule.”

Well, not really.

Relegated to the Red Wings’ third line, Weiss showed flashes of his former top-six abilities Tuesday, collecting three points to help Detroit to its sixth consecutive victory, a 5-4 decision, over his old team.

Weiss skated on the left wing opposite of Luke Glendening on Riley Sheahan’s line, which scored on three consecutive shifts in the second period to give the Wings a lead that they never relinquish. Glendening registered his first two-goal game of his career and Sheahan picked up two assists.

“It’s all nice. Like I said this morning, anytime you can win hockey games and feel like you’ve contributed, it’s a great feeling,” Weiss said. “It was nice to see some pucks go in the net tonight. I was really happy for Glenny. The guy battles so hard and to see him get a couple was awesome. On mine, Shea made a great play. I didn’t have to do much on that one.”

It’s the Red Wings’ first six-game winning streak since they rolled off six straight from Feb. 8-19, 2012. Detroit has also picked up points in each of its last 14 visits to BB&T Center dating to Feb. 16, 1997 (10-0-4).

Weiss collected his points during a four-goal flurry in the second period. His three points came in a 4:12 span midway through the frame. The Wings’ four straight goals resulted in Panthers’ starter Roberto Luongo being lifted in favor of backup Al Montoya.

“For whatever reason, the puck was following us,” Weiss said of his line. “I got lucky on the first one, a turnover by them. We had a good period I thought. Even in the first period we were in the offensive zone a lot, rolling around. It’s tough to get anything through five on five, so you need a couple of breaks and we got that with a turnover and a bounce on Glenny’s second one. Just kind of throw it in there and it ends up on a stick in front of the net. You need those kinds of bounces sometimes to get things rolling.”

It’s the third time this season that the Red Wings have victimized an opponent for four goals in a single period. They scored four in the first against Los Angeles (Oct. 31), and in the third period against Buffalo (Dec. 23).

Weiss had the primary assist on Glendening’s first goal, which gave the Wings a 3-2 lead at 7:07. Less than a minute and a half later, Weiss potted his first career goal against the Panthers. He had the lone assist on Glendening’s second goal, giving Detroit a 5-2 cushion at 11:19.

“They’re good players,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Shea made some world-class plays and was flying. Glenny’s a workhorse and it was good to see him shoot it in the net because he’s a guy so determined, the more confidence he gets the better he’s going to be. And it’s great for Weisser. We’d like Weisser to score for us. He got three points tonight. That’s a good night for him. It leads to confidence. Plus, this is his old building and you come in here and guys are happy for him.”

The Red Wings had to dodge the Panthers’ late push. Florida got a power-play goal by Nick Bjugstad late in the second, and an even-strength tally by Brad Boyes midway through the third to make things tighter for the Wings.

With 65 points now, the Wings are tied with the New York Islanders for first place in the Eastern Conference standings.

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