SUNRISE, Fla. - The Florida Panthers bounced back after a sluggish first period in their first game after the holiday break.
Mike Hoffman had a goal and two assists and the Panthers overcame a two-goal deficit to beat the Detroit Red Wings 5-4 on Saturday night.
Hoffman tied it at 3 at 6:39 of the second period with his 13th goal of the season, putting in a rebound of Brian Boyle’s between-the-legs shot.
Dominic Toninato’s steal of Valtteri Filppula’s pass and ensuing goal 9 seconds later put the Panthers up 4-3.
“Probably the most difficult thing is just we haven’t played in what we’re used to, every other day, every third day,” Hoffman said. “Early on, we probably should have just kept it a little more simple and tried to get ourselves into the game that way.”
Brett Connolly scored his team-leading 15th goal, and Evgenii Dadonov and Anton Stralman also scored to help the Panthers win for the fourth time in five games. Chris Driedger made 35 saves in his fourth NHL start to improve to 3-1-0.
Dylan Larkin had a goal and an assist for Detroit, and Darren Helm, Frans Nielsen and Luke Glendening also scored. The Red Wings have lost five in a row and are 2-15-2 their last 19.
Jimmy Howard played his second game after a 10-game injury absence and stopped 25 shots.
Florida scored on a power play 2:46 into the first period, with Jonathan Huberdeau feeding Dadonov in the slot for the Russian winger’s 14th goal of the season.
Detroit grabbed the lead with quick goals 38 seconds apart.
Helm scored on a breakaway after Hoffman’s turnover. The left wing skated in and beat Driedger for his sixth goal at 9:29. Larkin pounced on a pass from linemate Andreas Athanasiou and netted his ninth at 10:07.
“Whether we were sluggish or we were trying to catch up to the way the game was being played, we were hoping to dictate it right from the outset,” said Florida coach Joel Quenneville. “But you’re off for three days, you’re looking at the scores here everybody coming back, there’s been some high-scoring games.”
Patrik Nemeth’s blocked shot on an early second-period Florida power play led to Nielsen’s first goal in 34 games — a short-handed score — 46 seconds in to make it 3-1, but Connolly answered on the same man advantage by ripping home his 15th at 1:58.
“You’ve got a two-goal lead, you can’t get scored on like that. Good teams go out and try to get the fourth one,” Nielsen said.
Florida’s penalty-kill units stymied a Detroit power play midway through the third, and Stralman fired home his fourth goal on a pass from Hoffman at 13:24.
Glendening scored with 4:11 remaining and Howard pulled for the extra skater.
Detroit coach Jeff Blashill liked his club’s effort and said he felt the team deserved better.
“I’ll go back and say, if we continue to play like that and have that next-shift mentality and play that hard and competitive, we’re going to get our results that I (thought) we probably deserved tonight,” said Blashill.
NOTES: Blashill said Detroit will be without Anthony Mantha (rib cage) a minimum of four weeks. In 29 games, the right wing has 12 goals, including all four in the club’s 4-3 win over Dallas on Oct. 6. ... Filppula left the game late in the second period and did not return. … Detroit will host Florida in the final two meetings this season – on Jan. 18 and March 16. ... The Panthers played without defencemen Aaron Ekblad (undisclosed) and MacKenzie Weegar (upper body, day-to-day). Riley Stillman was recalled from Springfield of the AHL and made his fifth NHL start.
Red Wings: At Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Panthers: Host Montreal on Sunday.