SUNRISE, Fla. - The Detroit Red Wings could have one of their top offensive players back in the lineup when they begin their five-game road trip against the Florida Panthers on Thursday.
Pavel Datsyuk, who has been sidelined with a knee injury since facing Toronto in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1, participated in practice before traveling with the team on Wednesday with the hope of playing for the first time in 15 games. Detroit has earned at least one point in six of its last seven contests (4-1-2), including a 2-0 triumph over Vancouver on Monday.
The Red Wings also picked up a point in a 5-4 shootout loss to Florida on Jan. 26. The Panthers scored twice in a 1:46 span late in the third period to erase a 4-2 deficit and Nick Bjugstad netted the lone goal in the bonus format. Florida lost three straight after that victory before posting a 4-1 triumph over Toronto on Tuesday.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN (Detroit, Florida)
ABOUT THE RED WINGS (25-19-12): Despite missing more than a month, Datsyuk is fourth on the team in scoring with 32 points and trails defenseman Niklas Kronwall by two for second on the club.
"We need Pav, he's one of our best players," general manager Ken Holland told the team's website. "He's a dynamic player as well."
Captain Henrik Zetterberg is doing his best to pick up the slack offensively, collecting two goals and 10 assists over his last seven games.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (22-27-7): Brad Boyes was kept off the scoresheet Tuesday, ending his four-game point streak that began with a goal against Detroit in the Jan. 26 win. The 31-year-old had gone five games without a point prior to the tally.
Florida won three of the first four meetings with Detroit, all of which have been one-goal decisions.
1. The Red Wings have gone 7-5-2 in Datsyuk's absence.
2. Florida scored a total of six goals during its three-game slide before netting four against Toronto on Tuesday.
3. D Jakub Kindl is expected to miss both of Detroit's games before the Olympic break with a lower-body injury.
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