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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, December 7th (All times Eastern)
Florida Panthers (8-16-5) at Detroit Red Wings (15-8-7), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The surging Detroit Red Wings will shoot for their sixth win in seven games when they host the Florida Panthers in Saturday's Atlantic Division battle at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings have won five of six outings and are 6-2-0 since a seven-game losing streak from Nov. 4-19.
Detroit won for the sixth time in eight tries Friday night at New Jersey, posting a 3-1 win over the Devils at Prudential Center. Jimmy Howard only needed to make 10 saves to earn the win against New Jersey, while Tomas Tatar posted a goal and an assist to lead the Detroit offense, which was again without star forwards Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.
Joakim Andersson and Johan Franzen also scored for the Red Wings, who are currently sitting third in the Atlantic with 37 points -- 16 more than seventh-place Florida.
"We've been playing really good lately," said Andersson. "Right now we're finding ways to win and that's what it's all about. You just don't want to lose three or four in a row."
Zetterberg has sat out the last two games with a herniated disc in his back and is expected to miss at least another week of action. Datsyuk will miss a seventh straight game tonight with a concussion, but he could be ready to return when Detroit visits Florida in its next game on Tuesday.
Zetterberg is leading Detroit in scoring this season with 30 points on 11 goals and 19 assists. Datsyuk, meanwhile, is first in goals (12) and tied for second in points (23).
The Panthers will try to win consecutive games for just the second time this season when they take the ice on Saturday.
Florida halted a three-game slide in its last outing, recording a 5-2 decision over Winnipeg in the finale of a five-game homestand on Thursday. The Panthers, who last won back-to-back games on Nov. 16 and 19, went 2-3-0 during the recent stay at BB&T Center.
Dylan Olsen, Erik Gudbranson and Tomas Fleischmann each had a goal and an assist to lead the way in Thursday's triumph over the Jets. Nick Bjugstad and Jimmy Hayes also lit the lamp for the Panthers, while Tim Thomas stopped 29- of-31 shots for the win.
Olsen, a first-round pick (28th overall) by Chicago in 2009, registered the first goal of his NHL career in his 33rd game.
"It's awesome. It's your first NHL goal," Olsen said. "It was obviously exciting, but it's even better to get the win and get off that three-game losing streak. That's what we're excited about, and we've got to keep rolling from here."
Rookie forward Aleksander Barkov left Thursday's game with a lower-body injury, but he could be ready to go for tonight's test. The 18-year-old Finn was the second overall pick at last summer's draft and has four goals and six assists in 29 games this season.
Beginning with tonight's test, Florida is playing two straight and six of its next eight games on the road where it has a sub-par 3-9-2 record this season. The Panthers are back in action tomorrow night in Chicago before returning to South Florida for a two-game homestand. The brief home stretch begins with Tuesday's game against Detroit.
The Red Wings have earned at least a point in 18 straight meetings with Florida, going 11-0-2 with five ties since a 4-2 regulation loss in the Motor City on Dec. 1, 1996.
Detroit is 6-1-1 with three ties in 11 all-time matchups with the Panthers at the Joe.
12/07 10:38:14 ET