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It’s a Christmas Miracle: Wings Complete Comeback, Stun Panthers 4-3

Detroit Red Wings v Florida Panthers Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

There’s not really much to say going into this game. The Wings are in the same position they’ve been pretty much all season. They’re only a few points back of a playoff spot but need to start playing better in order to actually close the gap. Or just sell what pieces they can to expedite the rebuilding process. One of those two things. So did we get further kicked down the table against the Panthers or were the Wings able to start clawing their way back up to catch Boston?

1st Period

5 seconds into this one and Jonathan Ericsson nearly gave up a 2-on-1 after turning it over at his own blueline. Thankfully the refs called the play offsides and the Red Wings dodged another bullet straight off the opening faceoff.

Four minutes in and both teams had their share of chances. Andreas Athanasiou nearly completed a great play after stealing the puck deep in the offensive zone but his shot was sent just wide. On the next rush for the Panthers, a Dylan Larkin neutral zone turnover to Jaromir Jagr almost put the Panthers up by 1 after Jagr turned Larkin inside out.

Nice try Larkin.

5:38 in and Drew Miller got called for what looked to be a pretty weak slashing call. I’ve seen plays much worse than that let go, but oh well. The Wings went to work on the penalty kill and despite a few shots here and there, they didn’t give up much to the Panthers.

A few minutes later and Gustav Nyquist took an offensive zone hooking penalty on what looked to be another weak call. So we headed back to the penalty kill for the second time thus far. The result was pretty similar, Florida generated maybe one or two shots on goal but nothing terribly dangerous.

The Red Wings were given their first powerplay of the night after Bjugstad high-sticked a Red Wing. Just like the Panthers, however, the Red Wings failed to capitalize on the man advantage against the league’s 5th-best penalty kill. Right after the powerplay expired the Wings were called for something again and had to play a man down again.

Just as you’d expect, the Red Wings’ fortunes turned sour with just 20 seconds left to go on the penalty kill. After doing a great job boxing the Panthers out so far in the game, a shot from the point found its way through and into the net. It appeared like Vincent Trocheck deflected the puck right in front of Coreau. 1-0 Panthers with just 2 minutes left in the 1st period.

That’s how we went to the 1st intermission, Red Wings down by 1 after 1.

Shots (on goal):

DET: 14 (10)

FLA: 20 (11)

2nd Period

Less than 20 seconds into the second period our savior Anthony Mantha made the entire Florida defense look silly with a nifty goal from the slot.

Mantha, those players all have families you know. Have some compassion man.

Unfortunately, the tie was short-lived. 90 seconds into the period the Panthers scored on another shot from the point, this one also looked like it was deflected in front. The goal came just after Nielsen’s shot on an open net was barely tipped by a Panther stick in front of the net. 2-1 Panthers.

We played about 2 minutes of this period and saw 2 goals, a few posts and Smith got Kronwalled as hard as I’ve ever seen. Kronwall caught Smith with his head down on the zone exit following a Tatar near-miss and made him pay. Smith was down on the ice for a minute or so and when he got up there looked to be quite a bit of blood that needed to be cleaned up.

Keep your head up out there, and perhaps tell your defensemen to not send you suicide passes on zone exits.

Jagr took a tripping penalty on the ensuing Red Wings possession and the Wings headed back to the powerplay with just over 16 minutes left in the period hoping to tie this one up. They weren’t able to get a whole lot going but luckily were given another powerplay right after the initial one expired. And again, they had a few “almosts” and some dangerous looks but weren’t able to convert and tie this one up. Still 2-1 Panthers with 12:30 left in the period. A few minutes later the Panthers found Derek MacKenzie on the backdoor wide open for another goal. 3-1 Panthers with 9 minutes left in the period. It’s been that kind of game so far.

With just under 6 minutes left, the Panthers scored on yet another floating shot from the point that looked to be tipped, again. But wait! Jeff Blashill challenged the call for goaltender interference and the refs went to have a look. They ruled that since a Panther was in the paint, Coreau wasn’t able to play the puck the way he would’ve wanted to and thus, the score remained 3-1 Panthers. I have no idea how that’s goaltender interference, no contact occurred and we’ve seen plays much worse than that stand, but hey, I’ll take it! Head here and you be the ref, given the excerpt from the rulebook that’s given, does that look like interference to you?

Soon after, Athanasiou had a breakaway where he had Luongo beat but elevated the puck up and over the net from in close. As much as I love AA, I have no idea how you miss a wide open net like that. I’m sure that’s one he’ll be replaying for the next few days.

That’s where the 2nd left us, we went to the dressing room down 3-1.

Shots (on goal):

DET: 32 (22)

FLA: 33 (18)

3rd Period

Drew Miller took a penalty with 90 seconds left in the 2nd period but Aleksander Barkov high-sticked Nielsen, so we started the 3rd with 33 seconds of 4-on-4 play. Ericsson had another close encounter when he was burned as the last man back but Coreau was able to bail him out early on in the period.

90 seconds into the period and Drew Miller, of all people, got the Wings back within 1 on a slick top-shelf goal from the far side of the ice. Larkin dumped the puck in, Athanasiou circled the net, found Miller and he took care of all the rest. 3-2 Panthers, suddenly we had ourselves a hockey game!

From that point on the Wings seemed to control the majority of the play in the period, despite a few hiccups here and there. They’ve looked markedly better than they did against Tampa Bay - and I say that after they were down 3-1 (and should have been down 4-1) in this game.

And right as I typed that last paragraph, Jonathan Ericsson whiffed on a pass deep in his zone and on his recovery he slashed a Panther and went to the box. Also: that’s like the third time tonight Ericsson has messed up in his own zone. Fortunately the Wings managed to kill off the penalty to keep it a 1 goal game with only 7 minutes left.

What a big kill that ended up being. With just over 6 minutes left in the 3rd, the Wings won an offensive zone faceoff, cycled the puck for a few seconds, nearly scored when Sproul pinched into the zone and then scored on a rebound from a Nyquist shot. Tie game, 3-3!

That botched goalie interference call seems to have changed the complexion of this game, huh?

The horn sounded a few minutes later - 60 minutes wasn’t enough to decide this one. At the end of regulation it’s all tied up 3-3.

Shots (on goal):

DET: 55 (38)

FLA: 53 (31)


About a minute into the overtime period the Wings took another penalty, interference on Athanasiou. Away from the puck, he grabbed at a Panther directly in front of a referee as he went to the bench on a change and took a seat because of it. This was their sixth powerplay of the game. Right off the faceoff the Wings came down the ice on a 2-on-1 with Miller and Glendening but weren’t able to get a clean shot off.

The Panthers had some good puck movement for the last minute of the powerplay but couldn’t take advantage. With just over a minute to play the Wings got a lucky icing call once the powerplay expired. Florida had already taken its timeout right before the powerplay and so the Wings had a prime opportunity to put this game away. But it would not be so, as the Panthers managed to clear the puck and get some fresh legs on the ice.

Neither team could get a whole lot going over the last minute and the game went to a shootout.


Alright, so we went to the shootout where the Wings were a surprising 4-0 so far this season. And that’s without any Frans Nielsen goals so far in the skills competition.

Round 1:

Athanasiou skated in slow and just took a wrist shot which didn’t fool Luongo, who got enough of it to fight the puck off.

Trocheck came in, deked, dangled and slipped it under Coreau’s pads into the net. Or did it? From where I was sitting and the overhead view, it looked like the puck never went into the net. The puck went post-to-post and never crossed the line, so we stayed tied after the first round.

Round 2:

Vanek walked in and beat Luongo with a slick backhand move that had pretty much everyone in the building fooled. Luongo went for the poke check but Vanek managed to beat him anyway.

Barkov came back for the Panthers and quickly got one past Coreau with a backhand-forehand deke that opened up the five hole to even this one back up.

Round 3:

Finally! A Frans Nielsen shootout goal! He skated in and got just enough on the puck to get it through Luongo and into the net. They looked at this one too in order to make sure Nielsen didn’t shoot the puck twice or push Luongo’s pad on the goal. This one stood.

Nick Bjugstad had to score in order to keep this one alive for the Panthers and he was stoned by Coreau on a shot from the slot!

Called it!

Red Wings win 4-3!