(SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Red Wings aim to extend their longest winning streak of the season and make a move at first place in the Atlantic Division on Tuesday evening as they visit the struggling Florida Panthers.
The Red Wings won their final five games before the All-Star break to post their longest string of consecutive victories since taking six in a row from Feb. 8-19, 2012.
As a result, Detroit sits second in the division, two points ahead of Montreal and one back of Tampa Bay, which is visiting the Carolina Hurricanes tonight.
A third-period collapse nearly ended the Red Wings' win streak before the break, but the club recovered to win a 5-4 shootout decision over the Minnesota Wild.
Detroit blew a 4-1 lead in the third period, however, Pavel Datsyuk and Gustav Nyquist both scored in the shootout.
After Zach Parise missed high for Minnesota, Datsyuk was on point with his backhander as he lifted the puck over Darcy Kuemper's glove and into the net. Petr Mrazek stayed with Mikko Koivu and stopped his attempts before Nyquist swerved in from the right side, caught Kuemper moving and slid the puck between the netminder's pads for the win.
Nyquist finished with a goal and an assist, Teemu Pulkkinen scored his first NHL goal and Jonathan Ericsson and Xavier Ouellet also scored for the Red Wings.
"We really wanted that second point tonight," said Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, who had three assists. "Petr was solid in net, then Pavel and Gus did their thing."
Mrazek made 34 saves in the win and will likely face the Panthers for the first time in his career tonight with Jimmy Howard out with a torn groin.
The Red Wings are set to play two straight and five of their next six on the road, while the Panthers play the fourth contest of a five-game homestand looking to avoid a fifth straight loss.
Florida's 0-3-1 rut is its longest of the season and the club has not lost five in a row since March 27-April 4 of last year.
The Panthers entered the All-Star break off a 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Roberto Luongo made 21 saves versus his former team, while Brandon Pirri prevented a shutout defeat by scoring with 2:32 left in regulation.
"They took it to us in that first period," Florida head coach Gerard Gallant said. "It probably should have been 5-0 but 'Louie' kept us in there. We played better in the second and I thought real well in the third. It was just a little too late."
Luongo and rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad return to the Panthers following All-Star Game appearances over the weekend. Luongo yielded four goals on 17 shots in the first period for Team Toews, which won 17-12. Ekblad has four assists for the winning club.
Ekblad was selected to play in the game due to an injury to Colorado's Erik Johnson and leads all NHL rookie blueliners with 19 assists and 25 points.
The Panthers have won the first two of four meetings with the Red Wings this season, with both triumphs coming in Detroit. They have won five of the past seven encounters overall.
Luongo was in net for both wins, giving him a career mark of 13-13-5 versus the Red Wings with a 2.85 goals against average and .919 save percentage in 32 games.
Detroit has won seven of its past nine trips to Florida, however.