Red Wings' Weiss shakes slump against former team

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Sunrise, Fla. — Maybe Stephen Weiss simply needed a visit back to his old home.

Playing against his former team Tuesday, Weiss scored a goal and set up linemate Luke Glendening for two goals — all in a 4 minute, 12 second span — on three consecutive shifts in the second period, leading the Red Wings to a 5-4 victory over the Florida Panthers.

Riley Sheahan added two assists during the outburst, as the line accounted for seven points.

"For whatever reason the puck was following us," Weiss said of the second-period explosion. "We had a good period. Even in the first period we got in their zone a lot and were rolling around.

"It's tough to get anything going 5-on-5. You need a couple of breaks and we got that."

The victory stretched the Red Wings (28-11-9, 65 points) winning streak to six and moved them into first place in the Atlantic Division, one point ahead of Tampa Bay.

The Red Wings are in Tampa Bay Thursday with the Atlantic Division lead at stake.

"After a (five-day) break, this was about getting two points and not losing anyone (to injury)," Henrik Zetterberg said. "That happened tonight. We found a way to win."

Drew Miller (shorthanded) and Henrik Zetterberg added the other Red Wings goals.

Florida's Brad Boyes cut the Red Wings lead to 5-4 with his 10th goal at 10:54 of the third period, but the Red Wings held on, defeating the pesky Panthers (20-15-10, 50 points) for the first time in three games this season.

Petr Mrazek made 37 saves, including several big ones in the final minute as the Red Wings held off a Panthers power play.

"They were shooting from everywhere," Mrazek said. "I just tried to stop pucks."

This game was important for Weiss, who returned to Florida for only the second time since leaving the Panthers for the Red Wings as a free agent, and who had been mired in a lengthy offensive slump.

Weiss only had three points (all assists) in his last 12 games entering Tuesday's game. Two of the assists were in the last three games before the All-Star break, which might have been a sign a breakout was coming.

After Tuesday's morning skate, coach Mike Babcock said it was up to Weiss to grab hold of a top-six forward job and keep it.

"The bottom line is in pro sports, when you come back (from injury) you have to take somene's job, or you have to earn a job and keep the job," Babcock said. "He's been a top-six forward his whole life. He hasn't found a way to get one of those spots on our team."

Babcock liked what he saw of the Sheahan line, and the way Weiss responded.

"Sheahan's line was fantastic for us," Babcock said. "Sheahan made some world class plays and was flying, and Glennie is a workhorse. It was good to see him shoot it in the net.

"We like for Weiss to score for us. He had three points, that's good for him and it leads to confidence. Plus, this was his old building and the guys are real happy for him."

Weiss was glad to snap out of whatever offensive doldrums he'd been in.

"It felt nice," Weiss said. "Anytime you can win hockey games and feel like you contributed, it's a great feeling. It was nice to see some pucks go in the net.

"I'm happy for Glennie. He battles so hard, seeing him get a couple (of goals) is awesome."

The Panthers' first three goals were all on the power play, as the Red Wings penalty kill continued a recent slump, allowing an opposing power-play goal for the fifth consecutive game.

Aleksander Barkov, Brandon Pirri and Nick Bjugstad had Florida power-play goals.

"Our PK hasn't been good enough," Babcock said. "We have to get our PK fixed. We were on our heels and we weren't aggressive. We have to get that confidence back."