I'm sure you've heard about a thousand times by now that tonight's game between the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers was the first for the Red Wings coming out of the All-Star break. It's true, and it's also very relevant despite the annoying repetition because that fact reared its ugly head tonight.
A start that was filled with end-to-end action without any of the proper execution. Danny DeKeyser shot the puck out of play from his own zone, so penalty kill for Detroit. The Panthers gained the zone on the rush, only to lose the puck to Jonathan Ericsson who fired it out. I'm not sure he was trying to find Drew Miller streaking out of the zone, but Miller beat Aaron Ekblad to the puck and also beat Roberto Luongo for a 1-0 lead on the shorthanded goal.
The period devolved from there. A slashing call (I guess because that's what the boxscore tells me but not what my eyes did) to Quincey gave Florida a two-man advantage which promptly tied the game 1-1. Before Detroit could try to kill off the rest of Quincey's penalty, it was 2-1.
The second period was almost all Detroit. Henrik Zetterberg tied the game 32 seconds in after Gustav Nyquist forced a turnover behind the net and fed Z all alone in front. More than six minutes later, Dylan Olsen of the Panthers fanned on a pass attempt to Riley Sheahan, who fed the net front where Stephen Weiss almost scored against his former team. Luke Glendening — yes, Luke Glendening — cleaned up the garbage and gave Detroit its last lead of the night.
Over a minute later, Weiss finally scored against his former team, leading the rush and feeding Sheahan with a diagonal pass across the blue line. Sheahan charged the net and made a great touch pass to Weiss open cross-crease for a 4-2 lead.
The fun would continue three minutes later. On the rush, Weiss fed Glendening crashing the net, and a forehand roof goal would be credited to one Luke Glendening. You are reading that correctly (and I'm writing it correctly), Luke Glendening has two goals to this point of the game. That fifth goal chased Roberto Luongo for Al Montoya. The second period wouldn't end very fun, as Nick Bjugstad closed the game to 5-3 on another Florida power play goal.
After the third period didn't see too much action, Detroit decided that the last nine minutes of the game should be more interesting. Some Red Wings were in the defensive zone, and that's about all you could say about the defensive effort when Aleksander Barkov took the puck and drove the net before feeding an undefended Brad Boyes across the crease to cut the Detroit lead to one.
It was probably more exciting than it needed to be. We definitely didn't need a power play for Florida with under three minutes to go. But the Red Wings killed it off and held on for the victory!
- For the first time this season, the Red Wings gave up three power play goals against. The players on the penalty kill had their struggles, but the whole PK unit lacks its best player: Jimmy Howard.
- That said, the penalty kill with under three minutes in regulation came up huge when it stopped Florida from scoring the game-tying goal. Petr Mrazek made some huge saves on that kill and in the last 10 minutes of regulation to hold the lead.
- Red Wings on hot streaks: Zetterberg has six goals and seven assists in his last 11 games, including eight points in the last three games. Weiss has five points in his last four. Nyquist has seven points in his last four. I love offense.
- The officiating in this game was coming back from a break as well as the players. Let's just say I find it very difficult to believe that Florida committed only one minor penalty all game.
- Honestly, if we didn't lose to Florida so often lately, I would be more entertained by these matchups. Aaron Ekblad, Nick Bjugstad, Aleksander Barkov? I hate them about as much as I should for a division opponent, but these should be more entertaining matchups in the future. I'll enjoy the two points, and I'll forget soon enough the foibles from this particular game.
- And finally, Luke Glendening did indeed score two goals tonight.
The Tampa Bay Lightning lost to the Carolina Hurricanes tonight, so guess who currently leads the Atlantic Division? Florida is 15 points below us in the standings, and currently resides in the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference. Winning tonight not only brings us to the top of the division but also puts the Red Wings closer to guaranteeing a playoff spot. Eliminate teams below you as quickly as possible.
You know that Tampa Bay team we just overtook? We play them on Thursday. Bring plenty of firehoses because it promises to be a barnburner.