World Cup 2014 coverage:

Red Wings 3, Panthers 1

The SportsXchange

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Center Gustav Nyquist's tiebreaking second-period goal and the return of center Pavel Datsyuk sparked the Detroit Red Wings to a 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night at the BB&T Center.

Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (12-12-9) picked up the win. Panthers goalie Tim Thomas (15-17-3) played well except for the goal he allowed with no traffic in front of the net by Nyquist.

Datsyuk did not figure in the scoring, but the return of the four-time All-Star bodes well for Detroit in the second half ot the season.

The Red Wings (64 points), who started the day tied for seventh place in the tightly packed Eastern Conference, picked up a badly needed win. They also got some revenge after losing three of their first four games against the Panthers this year.

Florida (51 points), barring a near-miraculous run, is likely out of the playoff chase.

The Red Wings dominated the first period, outshooting the Panthers 11-2. But Detroit could not score, failing on two power-play opportunities -- one on a tripping penalty against center Scott Gomez and the second as the result of a slashing call against right winger Scottie Upshall.

After the Panthers killed the second penalty, Upshall raced out of the box and was hit with a perfect pass by right winger Tomas Kopecky. Upshall took advantage of the breakaway and beat Howard between the legs to give Florida a 1-0 lead with 25 seconds remaining.

It was the Panthers' second and final shot of the period. It was also Upshall's 10th goal of the season and career assist No. 100 for Kopecky.

Detroit got its power play going in the second period, tying the score 1-1 when right winger Daniel Alfredsson scored one of the easiest goals of his life, slamming in a rebound on the open left side of the net.

The goal, which came with 13:30 left in the second period, was Alfredsson's 13th of the season. Left winger Justin Abdelkader and defenseman Niklas Kronwall got the assists on a power play that was set up after Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell was sent off for tripping center Darren Helm.

Detroit took a 2-1 lead when Thomas gave up a bit of a soft goal with 6:38 left in the second period. Nyquist scored unassisted when his shot from the left circle beat Thomas high on his stick side. Thomas deflected the puck and it hit the back of the net.

The Wings also got an empty-net goal with 19 seconds left by defenseman Brian Lashoff.

NOTES: Wings C Pavel Datsyuk returned to action after missing 14 games with a lower-body injury. The Wings were 6-6-2 without him. ... Two Panthers will be competing in the Olympics -- RW Tomas Kopecky (Slovakia) and rookie C Aleksander Barkov (Finland). It is Kopecky's second Olympic appearance and the first for Barkov. ... The Wings have 10 Olympians. ... Wings C Stephen Weiss, a former Panthers standout, practiced Wednesday but missed Thursday night's game because of a hernia. He has been out since Dec. 10. ... Wings C Johan Franzen (concussion) and D Jacob Kindl (lower-body injury) also were out. ... The Panthers scratched D Dylan Olsen and RWs Krys Barch and Jimmy Hayes. ... The Wings scratched RWs Patrick Eaves, Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Cleary. ... Next up for the Panthers is a road game on Friday at Carolina. After that, they take a 20- day Olympic break before hosting Washington on Feb. 27. ... The Wings play Saturday at Tampa Bay and then are off until a Feb. 26 visit to Montreal.
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