AP Sports Writer
DETROIT (AP) - Jiri Hudler scored with 14:30 remaining in the third period and again in a shootout to help the Detroit Red Wings beat the Florida Panthers 2-1 on Sunday.
Pavel Datsyuk also scored in the shootout for the Red Wings, who held on to win when Kris Versteeg missed high on Florida's last attempt. The Panthers did secure a point to move three ahead of second-place Washington in the Southeast Division with three games remaining.
Florida leads ninth-place Buffalo by five points in the conference standings.
Detroit moved a point ahead of Nashville and two ahead of Chicago in the race for fourth place in the Western Conference.
Tomas Fleischmann scored for the Panthers in the first period.
Florida has never won a division title and hasn't made the playoffs since 2000. The Panthers are inching toward both of those accomplishments _ one point at a time. Five of Florida's last six games have gone at least to overtime, and the Panthers have an NHL-high 17 losses in overtimes or shootouts.
Fleischmann opened the scoring late in the first with his 26th goal of the season, beating goalie Jimmy Howard from the top of the circle on the right wing.
The Red Wings tied it on Hudler's shot from over by the boards at a tough angle to goalie Scott Clemmensen's left. The puck appeared to deflect off the stick of the Panthers' John Madden before slipping past Clemmensen.
Eight seconds after the tying goal, Detroit's Kyle Quincey was given a major penalty and a game misconduct for elbowing. Florida's Tomas Kopecky was doubled over as he left the ice after the play, but he was able to return.
The Panthers couldn't take advantage of the power play, which ended up shortened when Dmitry Kulikov was called for tripping in the middle of it.
Datsyuk and Florida's Wojtek Wolski scored to open the shootout, and Hudler put Detroit ahead with his goal. Mikael Samuelsson's backhand attempt was denied, Todd Bertuzzi failed to convert for the Red Wings, and Versteeg missed to end it.
Clemmensen had 31 saves, and Howard finished with 27.
NOTES: In the third period, Datsyuk flipped puck over the back of the net as if trying to bounce it of Clemmensen's back and in. The tricky move didn't work, but the crowd roared its approval anyway. ... Hudler's goal was his 25th of the season.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)