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Pavel Datsyuk returns in win

Pavel Datsyuk, who hadn't played since New Year's Day because of a lower-body injury, made his return for the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.

Datsyuk didn't record a point in 13 minutes, 34 seconds of ice time in the Wings' 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers.

Datsyuk, second on the team with 15 goals, told reporters after Thursday's practice that he would play and that he was "hoping I'm in good shape."

The center, who plans to play for Russia in the Winter Olympics, had scored six times with 11 assists in 12 career games against the Panthers.

"Sooner or later, I need to start [playing]," Datsyuk told reporters, "... and then we'll see what happens tonight. I've been waiting enough."

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Patrick Eaves would sit out.

"I just hope we're doing the right thing," Babcock told reporters. "I hope we're not bringing him back just because it's the Olympics. I hope he's actually ready, and we're going to find out tonight. One thing about getting back on the ice, you can't hide out there.

"It's in his country, he wants to play bad, but he's a smart guy, he isn't going to jeopardize his career over something like this. Makes no sense. So we got to trust him. Same way it happens all the time. You trust them. In the end, they make the decision. That's what injured players do."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.