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SUNRISE (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – Things are going very well for the Florida Panthers this season.
The Panthers knocked off the league’s top team in its building right after the All-Star break and look to extend their lead in the Atlantic Division when they host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.
The Panthers have won four straight after posting a 5-2 victory at Washington on Tuesday and lead second-place Tampa Bay by five points.
“We know we’re a good team and we believe in ourselves,” Panthers leading scorer Jonathan Huberdeau told the Miami Herald. “We’re showing that on the ice.”
The Red Wings are coming off a 3-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Wednesday in which they allowed a pair of power-play tallies and came up empty on two opportunities to drop into a virtual tie for third in the Atlantic – seven points behind Florida.
Gustav Nyquist scored the only goal for Detroit, which surprisingly stands in the bottom-third of the league in scoring.
Coach Jeff Blashill told reporters after Wednesday’s contest that the Red Wings have to create more havoc and find ways to score goals.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Detroit, FSN Florida
ABOUT THE RED WINGS (25-17-8): Detroit finished second in the league on the power play last season at 23.5 percent and has fallen to 20th this campaign (17.4) after going 4-for-29 with the man advantage over its last 11 games.
“We haven’t delivered as many pucks to the net,” Blashill told reporters. “We haven’t had the opportunities to score as many dirty goals because of it.”
Rookie Dylan Larkin and captain Henrik Zetterberg lead the team with 33 points apiece but were kept off the scoresheet Wednesday.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (30-15-5): Huberdeau continued his torrid stretch with a pair of goals Tuesday and has collected six points in his last four games to push his season total to 37.
All-Star Jaromir Jagr notched an assist against Washington to move within one of becoming the sixth player in NHL history with 1,100 and is four goals away from tying Brett Hull for third on the all-time list.
Aleksander Barkov, who centers Jagr and Huberdeau, and Jussi Jokinen each are riding four-game point streaks and Reilly Smith has scored four goals in five contests.
- Panthers All-Star D Aaron Ekblad leads all NHL blue-liners with a plus-22 rating.
- Detroit C Riley Sheahan missed Wednesday’s game due to illness but could return against Florida.
- Florida has won five of the last seven meetings, including a 2-1 overtime triumph on Nov. 29 in Detroit.
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