Panthers-Red Wings Preview

The Detroit Red Wings fared much better in their second game

without Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg.

With Datsyuk potentially returning soon, the Red Wings try to

keep their momentum going during their set of back-to-back games

against the Florida Panthers that begins Saturday night at Joe

Louis Arena.

In its first game without its two stars, Detroit (15-8-7) blew a

two-goal lead Wednesday against Philadelphia and was denied a

season-high fifth straight win with a 6-3 loss.

The Red Wings gave up four goals in the final period of that

game but scored twice in that frame in a 3-1 victory in New Jersey

on Friday.

Johan Franzen’s tiebreaking goal with 7:20 remaining was his

third in as many games and extended his point streak to six

contests. Franzen has four goals and five assists during that run,

and Tomas Tatar has four goals and three assists in his last four

games.

That’s helped make up for the absence of Datsyuk, who has missed

the past six games with a concussion-like symptoms. He has returned

to practice and may play in the next two games.

The Red Wings could use his help as he has five goals and eight

assists in his 10 career games against the Panthers

Zetterberg is expected to miss at least two weeks with his

herniated disc, and Darren Helm is expected to sit out Saturday’s

game because of a shoulder injury suffered in Wednesday’s loss.

“(The Red Wings have) to keep (winning). Tough without big guys

but it’s important to see we can win without them,” Franzen said.

“(It’s) big for us to see we can win without them.”

The Red Wings will try to follow Friday’s win by improving on

their recent 5-0-2 record against Florida. Detroit is 3-0-1 in the

past four home meetings with the Panthers.

Florida (8-16-5) heads into this game only ahead of last-place

Buffalo in the Atlantic Division and with a 2-4-1 record in its

last seven contests. The Panthers snapped a three-game skid with a

5-2 win over Winnipeg on Thursday, and Dylan Olsen’s first NHL goal

provided a much-needed spark.

Florida also scored the next two goals to take a comfortable 4-1

early in the third period, and its five tallies were its most since

a 6-3 victory over Pittsburgh on Oct. 11. Jimmy Hayes, acquired

from Chicago along with Olsen on Nov. 14, scored the game’s final

goal.

“They’re good young guys. They’re learning their trade,” coach

Peter Horachek said. “They both want to be pros. They want to be

here.”

The Panthers are among the NHL’s least effective on offense with

2.21 goals per game and are also near the bottom defensively with

3.21 goals allowed per contest. The Red Wings will try to take

advantage and avoid their 11th loss in 13 home games.

Florida is 3-9-2 on the road – tying it with Buffalo and the New

York Islanders for the fewest wins away from home – but had earned

back-to-back victories there before losing the past two.

Franzen had two goals and an assist in five lifetime matchups

against the Panthers, who will host the Red Wings on Tuesday after

visiting Chicago on Sunday.