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SUNRISE (SportsDirect Inc.) — The Detroit Red Wings attempt to hold onto the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference when they visit the Atlantic Division-leading Florida Panthers on Saturday.

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The Red Wings, who visit Tampa Bay on Tuesday, knocked off Columbus 3-1 on Thursday to take a one-point lead on surging Philadelphia in the race for the second wild-card position with the Flyers owning two games in hand.

“You have control over how hard you play, what your attitude is like, those things,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill told reporters Friday. “We’ve got to make sure we play 60 minutes.”

The Panthers have moved back to the top of the division after winning four of five games, including a 4-1 triumph at Toronto on Thursday.

Florida’s offense has been in gear with improved health, producing 24 goals in the last six contests (4-1-1) as 44-year-old Jaromir Jagr continues to lead the way with 55 points.

The Panthers have won two of the previous three meetings this season, including 6-3 at home Feb. 4.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, NHL Network, FSN Detroit Plus, FSN Florida

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ABOUT THE RED WINGS (35-25-11): Jimmy Howard (9-10-5, .910 save percentage) came up big with 27 saves to beat Columbus on Thursday and is likely to get another start with No.1 netminder Petr Mrazek struggling with illness. Captain Henrik Zetterberg, who tops the team with 44 points, notched a goal in the last contest to tie Brendan Shanahan for eighth on the team’s all-time list with 309. Veteran defenseman Niklas Kronwall (sprained right knee) could return to the lineup after missing the last three games.

ABOUT THE PANTHERS (40-22-9): Jagr has 24 goals, tied for his most productive season since returning to the NHL from Russia in 2011-12. Veteran forward Jussi Jokinen has also been a major factor in the Panthers mix of young talent and experience, scoring twice Thursday to collect points for the 11th time in his last 12 contests. Center Nick Bjugstad has begun to catch fire with two goals and two assists in four games while Jonathan Huberdeau has registered eight points in six games since returning from a concussion.


1. Panthers G Roberto Luongo has recorded 30 victories for the first time since 2011-12 with Vancouver when he had 31.

2. Detroit’s rookie C Dylan Larkin had an assist Thursday to give him only his second point in the last 12 games.

3. Florida RW Teddy Purcell has three points in four games since being acquired at the trade deadline and needs one goal to reach 100 in his career.

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