The Florida Panthers were thrilled to have banged-up goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky back on the ice. He was pretty happy about it, too.
Bobrovsky made 27 saves, helping Florida beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 on Saturday night to win four straight for the first time this season.
“Great to get back and play again," he said. “I missed only two games and it feels like I haven’t played for a month.”
Bobrovsky looked sharp and appeared to finish the game healthy after being out with an upper-body injury. Those were good signs for a team that will be without goaltender Chris Driedger for several weeks with what’s believed to be a groin injury.
“You can see the confidence of the team when he's back there," Florida's do-it-all player Mark Pysyk said.
Evgenii Dadonov and Pysyk scored late in the first period and that was enough offense to beat the lowly Red Wings.
Detroit has dropped four games in a row, giving the once-proud franchise an NHL-worst 12-33-4 record this season.
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill, though, liked how physical and feisty his team played in its latest loss.
“We're not going to limp through and just kind of play these games," Blashill said. “We're gonna fight like crazy to win every night and fight like crazy to get better every day.”
Dylan Larkin scored the 100th goal of his career with the Red Wings.
“Hopefully, there’s a lot more," he said. “It doesn’t feel great right now."
Larkin's goal pulled Detroit within a goal early in the second period, but the offensively challenged team could not get closer.
Jimmy Howard stopped the first 12 shots he faced before Florida scored on two of its final four shots in the first period. He finished with 34 saves.
The veteran, whose season has been stunted by injury, has played in four straight games. The team needed Howard to be in net on consecutive nights with Jonathan Bernier out with a lower-body injury.
“The past two games, he’s played great for us," Larkin said. “He’s been our best player. We need him to keep going."
Dadonov scored with 2:45 left in the opening period and Pysyk scored 1:25 later, giving the Panthers a 2-0 lead.
“Scoring early has been good for us," coach Joel Quenneville said.
Larkin had a goal 5:15 into the second period, taking advantage of open ice after coming out of the penalty box and Darren Helm's long pass that set him up for a breakaway.
The Red Wings had an extra skater for a fifth time early in the third and failed to take advantage, getting only one shot on Bobrovsky.
Detroit had another power play midway through the third, but negated it 21 seconds later when Larkin was called for tripping.
Shortly thereafter, Bobrovsky stopped Frans Nielsen's breakaway shot and rebound attempt. Seconds later, Howard made a save when Barkov was alone in front of him with a chance to restore a two-goal lead.
Florida went on the power play with seven-plus minutes left and took advantage 15 seconds later. Aleksander Barkov redirected the puck off Keith Yandle's pass that was intentionally wide of the net.
“A lot of power plays out there tonight and our PK was pretty good," Quenneville said after his team's penalty killers didn't give up a goal on seven power plays. “Bob was really good and then he was our best (penalty) killer. Early in the game, he made a couple of big saves.”
NOTES: Red Wings C Valtteri Filppula left with a lower-body injury, but is not expected to miss the next game. ... Bobrovsky missed the previous two games with an upper-body injury. ... Detroit has a losing streak of at least four games for the fifth time this season. ... Dadonov has a team-high 21 goals.
Panthers: Play at Minnesota on Monday night.
Red Wings: Play at Colorado on Monday night.