DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Red Wings have been competitive this season despite being in the middle of the pack, at best, in scoring.
Pavel Datsyuk might be able to give them a boost offensively.
Datsyuk scored twice in a 1:08 span midway through the third after Tomas Tatar broke a scoreless tie earlier in the period and Petr Mrazek made 23 saves for the Red Wings in a 3-0 win over the Florida Panthers on Monday night.
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill expected the Red Wings to score a lot of goals this season. That hasn’t happened very often in his first season.
Detroit, though, has an 8-1 edge in goals while winning two straight home games for the first time in two months.
“Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come,” Blashill said.
The Red Wings will likely keep Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg together on the same line after reuniting them recently.
“It’s fun,” Zetterberg said. “We’ve been playing on the same team for many, many years.”
At the other end of the rink, Mrazek has clearly emerged as the team’s No. 1 goaltender ahead of Jimmy Howard. Mrazek already has a career-high four shutouts this season.
“Petr is a big piece of our puzzle,” Blashill said.
The Atlantic Division-leading Panthers lost a second straight game and perhaps a key player.
Florida center Aleksander Barkov was knocked out of the game in the second period after getting hit high by the left shoulder of Red Wings winger Justin Abdelkader. Barkov’s return to the game was ruled out because of what the team described as an upper-body injury.
Barkov was evaluated for a concussion and probably won’t play Tuesday night in Buffalo.
A penalty was not called on Abdelkader.
“I thought it was a cheap shot,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said.
“It was a head shot,” Panthers center Nick Bjugstad. “I don’t know why the ref didn’t call it.”
Blashill thought the officials made the correct call by not penalizing Abdelkader.
“I thought it was a totally, clean hit,” he said. “Just a good, hockey hit.”
“I thought my feet were down and I thought I followed through his body,” he said.
The 20-year-old Barkov is among Florida’s leaders with 16 goals and 35 points. He signed a six-year extension worth about $35 million with Florida last month.
“Hopefully, he’ll be back soon,” Gallant said.
The hit that sent Barkov onto the ice was one of many in a tight-checking, chippy game.
With 1:02 left, fists flew.
Florida’s Derek MacKenzie checked Abdelkader into the glass, and after they exchanged a few words, gloves were dropped and punches were landed.
For two-plus periods, no one could get the puck into the net.
That changed when Detroit defenseman Jakub Kindl sent a fluttering puck toward net and Tatar deflected it.
Datsyuk’s wrist shot from the top of the left circle sailed through traffic and past Al Montoya. He skated to the front of the net, got a great pass from Henrik Zetterberg and made a move to set up a backhander that he slid between Montoya’s pads for his second goal. Datsyuk had not scored twice in a game since Feb. 23, 2015.
Montoya finished with 28 saves.
The Panthers lost their previous game 3-2 in overtime after scoring at least four goals in each victory during a five-game winning streak. They had five power plays at Detroit, but didn’t take advantage.
“We had some chances when it was 0-0, 1-0,” Jaromir Jagr said after playing in his 1,600th NHL game.
NOTES: Detroit D Mike Green (groin) was scratched. … Panthers D Erik Gudbrnson missed a second straight game with an upper-body.
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