Zetterberg’s return lifts Red Wings
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Henrik Zetterberg didn’t wait long to make an impact in his first game back from injury.
Zetterberg scored a goal in the first period to lift the Detroit Red Wings over the Florida Panthers 4-3 on Saturday night.
Zetterberg returned after missing 11 games with a herniated disk in his back. Zetterberg leads the Red Wings with 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists).
"It was nice after a little break here to come back and get a good start. We got two points and we won," Zetterberg said.
Gustav Nyquist, Brendan Smith and Daniel Alfredsson also scored for Detroit.
Jonas Gustavsson stopped 30 shots. Pavel Datsyuk had two assists.
The Red Wings were happy to have their leading scorer back.
"It’s huge. Hank brings so much to this team, both on and off the ice," Nyquist said. "With him and Pav (Datsyuk) playing you can really feel the difference. That’s why they’re our leaders."
Sean Bergenheim scored two goals and Nick Bjugstad also scored for Florida. Scott Clemmensen made 27 saves for the Panthers.
The Red Wings have won three of four and beat the Panthers for the first time in three games this season.
"We won three out of four here suddenly and some things are better," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
The Panthers lost their third straight game.
"We showed a lot of battle," Bjugstad said. "We fought back and worked hard. Unfortunately, it didn’t go the way we wanted it to."
With the game tied at 2, the Red Wings scored twice in the first 1:20 of the third.
Smith one-timed a shot from the right circle that went over Clemmensen’s head to give Detroit a 3-2 lead at 42 seconds of the period. The goal was Smith’s first of the season in 30 games.
Nyquist poked in a rebound 38 seconds later that stretched the lead to 4-2.
Bergenheim’s second goal of the game made it 4-3. His shot from the high slot went five-hole on Gustavsson at 4:27. Bergenheim earned his second two-goal game this season. The other was on Nov. 25 against Philadelphia.
"It doesn’t really mean anything. Disappointment is what’s on everybody’s mind right now," Bergenheim said.
Trailing 2-0, the Panthers scored twice in just over two minutes in the second period to tie the game.
Florida closed to 2-1 on Bergenheim’s power-play goal at 12:52. Bergenheim took a pass from Brian Campbell in front of the crease and backhanded it past Gustavsson.
Bjugstad tied the game on a breakaway, bringing the puck to the crease and slipping it past Gustavsson’s pad at 14:59 to make it 2-all.
"I got kind of lucky that puck landed right on my tape. My eyes were real big when I was skating down the ice," Bjugstad said.
The Red Wings scored two power-play goals in the first period. The Red Wings scored on their first shot of the game. Alfredsson’s ripped a shot from the right circle 12 seconds into the power play beat Clemmensen at 3:47 for a 1-0 lead. Alfredsson has five points in his past four games.
Zetterberg made it 2-0 when he took a cross-ice pass from Datsyuk at the dot in the right circle and wristed it over Clemmensen’s glove and into the net at 14:29.
Zetterberg’s presence seemed to fire up the team.
"It’s not only all the goals and points he scores, it’s the small things that helps everyone," Gustavsson said. "It was great to see him back."
NOTES: The Red Wings will play six of their next seven games on the road. Their only home game will be against Toronto at Michigan Stadium on New Year’s Day in the Winter Classic. … Winger Justin Abdelkader returned after missing five games due to a concussion. … Panthers goaltender Tim Thomas was activated off the injured list after missing the past seven games with a groin injury and is expected to start on Sunday against visiting Montreal. … C Marcel Goc got his 100th career assist.