SUNRISE (CBSMiami/AP) – The Florida Panthers are running out of time to make a strong push towards a playoff spot, and their Thursday night opponent isn’t going to make things any easier.READ MORE: Florida Records Highest One-Day Total Of COVID Cases With 21,000
A team meeting sparked the Detroit Red Wings to what they’re hoping to be the start of a turnaround, and now they’re expected to get Darren Helm back.
Any excitement, however, is certainly muted with Pavel Datsyuk out again.
The Red Wings try to withstand Datsyuk’s absence as they attempt to continue their road dominance of the Panthers, who could have Roberto Luongo back.
Detroit (38-19-11) had lost four of five games after falling 7-2 at Philadelphia on Saturday in the opener of this four-game road trip. The performance was so dire, captain Henrik Zetterberg called a players-only meeting.
The Red Wings responded by scoring the first five goals in a 5-1 win at Pittsburgh on Sunday.
“We just said ‘Enough is enough,'” Zetterberg said. “We’ve got to go out and play, got to enjoy playing first of all.”
Now, they’ll again have to do it without Datsyuk, who won’t make the trip to Florida with what the team is calling a lower-body “ache.” The center also won’t play in Friday’s game against Tampa Bay.
The center’s 58 points in 57 games are one back of Zetterberg’s total for the team lead.
While Datsyuk is out, Detroit is scheduled to get Helm back after he missed seven games with an oblique injury.
“Real excited,” coach Mike Babcock told the team’s official website. “Helmer can be a big boost to us. Obviously, a fresh Pavel will be a big boost to us too when he comes back.”READ MORE: Hundreds Attend 'Down With The Chains' Rally At Bayfront Park For Freedom For Cuba, Venezuela & Nicaragua
Helm has 13 goals and 16 assists on the season, but just one point in seven career meetings with Florida (31-25-14).
Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist have fared much better. Zetterberg has 11 points in 13 games against the Panthers, while Nyquist has a point in his last six games versus Florida after assisting on Zetterberg’s tally in a 5-4 road win Jan. 27.
The Red Wings have won three straight at Florida, and are 11-1-2 with two ties in 16 all-time visits.
While Detroit is third in the Atlantic Division and eight points clear of the playoff cutoff in the Eastern Conference, the Panthers are seven points back of Boston for the second wild-card spot after dropping two straight.
Florida fell 3-2 to Montreal on Tuesday as Dan Ellis made his sixth straight start in net while Luongo (upper body) and backup Al Montoya (groin) remain sidelined.
Ellis is 3-2-1 with a 2.13 goals-against average in that stretch, but it’s unclear if he’ll get the nod again with Luongo reportedly nearing a return.
Luongo has a 4.47 GAA while losing four of his last six meetings with Detroit, getting pulled midway through the second period after making just 12 saves on 17 shots Jan. 27.
Ellis was chased after the opening period in his last meeting with the Red Wings, giving up three goals on 13 shots in a loss with Dallas on Jan. 4, 2014.
Florida’s Brandon Pirri has seven goals in nine games after missing nine with an upper-body injury. The center found the net for a third straight game Tuesday, giving him a career-high 16 and his third scoring streak of at least three contests.
Pirri’s only goal in four games against Detroit came on Jan. 27.MORE NEWS: Royal Caribbean Expands COVID Testing Requirements
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