Sunrise, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Red Wings received a pair of goals from Swedish Olympians in Gustav Nyquist and Daniel Alfredsson and pulled out a 3-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday.
Pavel Datsyuk returned from a 14-game absence due to a lower-body injury, and though Russia's captain was virtually non-existent, the star forward saw the Red Wings improve to 5-1-2 over the past eight games.
Jimmy Howard made 16 of his 23 saves in the third period, his only blemish coming on a Scottie Upshall breakaway in the closing seconds of the first.
Tim Thomas was a hard-luck loser after a 30-save performance.
"They out-worked us," Panthers head coach Peter Horachek said. "Simple as that."
The Panthers, who pumped out a season-high 48 shots in Tuesday's win over Toronto, managed just two in the opening period Thursday, and one went in.
At the tail end of killing off an Upshall penalty, Mike Weaver blocked a shot at the same time Upshall came out of the box. Tomas Kopecky picked up the loose puck and caught Upshall in stride, and Upshall beat Howard between the pads with 25.4 seconds remaining in the period.
The momentum shifted the other way when Detroit evened things with a power play goal 6:30 into the second as Justin Abdelkader, stationed in front, sent a deft pass over to Alfredsson for an easy tap-in at the left doorstep.
Florida failed to capitalize on several scoring chances following the tying goal, and after Howard stuffed a pinpoint backhand attempt, Nyquist went end- to-end and beat Thomas short side with a wrister from just above the left circle with 6:38 left before to third.
"Howard made a key stop...and I skated wide and tried to catch (Thomas) off guard," Nyquist said.
Howard stopped Sean Bergenheim on a breakaway with under five minutes left to play, and Detroit killed off a late penalty. Florida had a two-man advantage after pulling Thomas and still couldn't solve Howard, and Brian Lashoff sealed the outcome with an empty-net tally.