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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, December 28th (All times Eastern)

Detroit Red Wings (17-13-9) at Florida Panthers (14-19-5), 7 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Florida Panthers will try to defeat the Detroit Red Wings for the third time in as many meetings this season, as they host an Atlantic Division battle Friday at BB&T Center.

The Panthers and Red Wings met twice in a span of a few days earlier this month and Florida won both encounters, taking a 2-1 regulation decision in Detroit on Dec. 7 before recording a 3-2 home shootout victory on Dec. 10.

Tim Thomas recorded both wins against the Red Wings and is expected to play tonight for the first time since Dec. 10. Thomas had been bothered by a groin injury recently, but was activated from injured reserve earlier this week, while goaltender Jacob Markstrom was sent back down to the AHL.

Thomas, a two-time Vezina winner during his productive stint in Boston, is 3-3-0 with a 2.51 goals against average in seven career games (six starts) against the Red Wings.

Florida enters Saturday's tilt on a two-game slide and the drought comes on the heels of a season-best five-game winning streak. After having the streak halted with a 5-2 loss at Winnipeg on Dec. 20, the Panthers were slammed by the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, dropping a 6-1 decision against their intra-state rivals.

Martin St. Louis had one goal and two assists to help lead the rout in Sunrise. Sean Bergenheim tallied the lone goal for the Panthers, while Scott Clemmensen allowed all six goals on 36 shots in the setback.

"It got worse as the game went on, obviously, and they didn't play with a lot of energy, a lot of conviction or resolve," Florida interim coach Peter Horachek said of his squad. "We kind of left (Clemmensen) there hanging quite a few times."

The lopsided loss to the Bolts was a bad way to start a five-game homestand for the Panthers, who are just 7-8-3 as the host this season.

Florida will not have defenseman Erik Gudbranson or forward Scottie Upshall for the second tilt on this residency. Gudbranson underwent surgery to repair a broken orbital bone on Monday and is expected to miss 3-to-4 weeks of action. Upshall will miss Saturday's test after suffering an upper-body injury on Monday, but he is considered day-to-day.

Detroit, meanwhile, expects to have captain Henrik Zetterberg and fellow forward Justin Abdelkader back tonight. Zetterberg has missed the last 11 games since suffering a herniated disc in his back earlier this month, but he is still leading the team with 30 points on 11 goals and 19 assists.

Abdelkader has missed the last five games with a concussion. He has three goals and 10 assists in 34 games this season.

Even with the return of Abdelkader and Zetterberg, the Red Wings are still dealing with injuries to a host of key players, including goaltender Jimmy Howard, forwards Johan Franzen and Stephan Weiss and defenseman Jonathan Ericsson.

The hobbled Red Wings lost for the seventh time in nine games on Monday, as they had a two-game win streak halted by the visiting New York Islanders. Evgeni Nabokov stopped all 23 shots he faced and received three first-period goals to help the Isles down Detroit by a 3-0 score at Joe Louis Arena.

Petr Mrazek came up with just 16 saves in the loss.

"We didn't really give him much help," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said of Mrazek. "What's he going to do? He came up with some big saves for us. We didn't give him a chance."

Jonas Gustavsson could get the call in net for Detroit tonight and is 2-5-0 with a 3.10 GAA in seven career games (six starts) against Florida.

12/28 10:30:46 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
4th
ORL 76
CHA 85
 
Final
PHI 2
UTA 6
 
Final
CHI 86
LAC 96
Final
HOU 105
CLE 103
4th
ORL 76
CHA 85
 
Final
BOS 101
GSW 106
 
4th
IND 79
PHI 72
 
4th
SAC 92
POR 98
 
3rd
LAL 69
OKC 78
 
1st
DEN 2
NOP 2
 
Final
NIAG 57
FAIR 56
 
Final
PETE 68
IONA 60
 
Final
RIDE 59
MAR 49
 
Final
MAN 69
QUIN 65
 
Final
UCONN 81
SMU 73
Final
CAL 73
ORST 56
Final
HOU 72
SFLA 55
Final
PROV 77
MARQ 66
Final
WISC 68
MSU 61
Final
MON 63
SIENA 57
 
2nd
WAKE 57
PITT 61
 
2nd
STAN 37
OREG 42
 
1st
OSU 22
PURD 28
 
8:30pm Tonight
COL
ARST
9:30pm Tonight
UCLA
WASU
Final
WIN 5
LOS 2
Final
PIT 5
CLB 3
Final
FLA 4
TAM 3
2nd
WAS 1
TOR 0
 
1st
DAL 0
ANA 0
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
STL