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Red Wings Push Panthers to OT, But Fall Short 3-2

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Despite improved effort, Detroit lose to Panthers who continue their hot start

Florida Panthers v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

Following a rough finale against Dallas, Detroit was hoping to hit reset when they returned home with their first series of the season against the Florida Panthers. After starting the season with a couple of splits in these mini-series on the schedule, the Wings failed to get a win against either of Chicago and Dallas. Florida on the other hand has had a slow start to the season with their series against Dallas and Carolina both cancelled leaving them with only four games played before tonight. But on the nights they have played, Florida has played well grabbing at least a point in all four games.

The Red Wings are still awaiting the return of a few key contributors on offense in Zadina, Fabbri, and Gagner as well as defenseman Jon Merrill. Bernier was added to the injury list, as the only non Covid related designation, after being crashed into by Mantha in the previous game and having to leave. Naturally Thomas Greiss got the start on what would have been his turn in the rotation anyway. Beyond that warmups showed some different line combinations up front with Ryan moving to Larkin’s wing and Bertuzzi joining them as among the most intriguing. Hirose earned his way up the lineup joining Mantha and Namestnikov. Smith was bumped from the lineup for Nielsen.

For the Panthers, their lineup was unscathed coming in, with their light schedule likely playing a factor. They are led up front by Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau as well as new addition Anthony Duclair. Two players off to hot starts are Carter Verhaeghe and Patric Hornqvist, each with 4 goals in 4 games to start the season. Florida’s backend carries a bit more name value with players like Ekblad, Yandle, and Stralman. In goal for the Panthers tonight, Sergei Bobrovsky was still in search of what made him a hot commodity two summers ago. The netminder entered the night with .879 SV% and 7 goals against in two games so far.

Were the Wings able to bounce back from a tough outing against Dallas, and put a halt to the Panthers hot start?

1st Period

It didn’t take long to get the game’s first penalty as Brome got caught holding with his loose hand while backchecking through the neutral zone. A play that gets called all the time these days and he has to know better, despite Mickey Redmond’s protests to the contrary. Greiss made a big save early on the powerplay but shortly after that Florida was able to break the penalty kill down and after working a puck down to the goal line, the pass to the front of the net was knocked in by DeKeyser who was attempting to knock it away, but instead chipped it over Greiss’ shoulder, 1-0 Panthers.

Certainly not the start Detroit was looking for. But it at least gave the team a needed jolt because their pace seemed to pick up afterwards. The Brome, Glendening, Helm line got some good pressure going. Hronek and Helm worked a couple of nice give and go plays with each other. Just after that shift ended another penalty was called when Florida was called for holding the stick near the benches. Right off the top Hronek fired a one-timer shot from the left point that Bobrovsky routinely steered away. But there was little after that as while the Wings did a better job gaining the zone, they failed to get setup and had several one and done plays.

After the commercial break, the broadcast noted that Heponiemi was playing his first NHL game. So collectively Wings fans groaned as that likely meant he was destined to score in this one.

Hronek was hurt off a draw in the Detroit end after catching Namestnikov’s wayward stick in the face and skated gingerly towards the bench. Immediately after that Detroit continued to show what’s plagued them and failed to effectively move the puck around in their own end before eventually turning it over in front of the net, forcing Greiss to make a save with an outstretched pad. At the halfway mark of the period, Florida carried a 7-3 shot advantage.

Hronek returned a few minutes after the above noted injury. The Larkin, Bertuzzi, and Ryan line showed some zip on a shift working it around down low before a pass found Larkin at the right dot who sent a shot wide low to the far side.

Nemeth made a nice play when a Larkin shot rimmed around the boards to his side. He anticipated it moving down the wall to pick up the puck and quickly slid it to the slot area where Bertuzzi had beat his man to the open space, but Bertuzzi’s shot went wide.

After building a bit of momentum, Detroit forced a turnover in the neutral zone and quickly countered the other way and managed to draw another Florida penalty. On the ensuing delayed penalty Hirose floated a puck towards the goal with Namestnikov crashing. By creating some chaos with his drive to the net, it caused Bobrovsky to steer the rebound to the slot where Anthony Mantha was first on it and hammered it to the open site of the net, 1-1.

That had a to be a sense of relief for the big man, and the combination with the playmaking Hirose paid off early. Detroit looked to have found some energy after the slow start, evening the shots as the period went into the final few minutes. Helm had an opportunity in front on a loose puck but was knocked over before he could get a stick on it. Bertuzzi got open for another great opportunity on his off-side when Larkin worked a puck out from the corner to Ryan who quickly slid it across the slot to Bertuzzi, but he fired it wide again. Moments later on the same shift, Stetcher made a move around his man at the point before putting a shot to the net with traffic. Larkin found the bouncing puck and put it off the post. Bertuzzi was alone in the crease area for the rebound and put it into the net, 2-1 Red Wings.

That goal was Bertuzzi’s fifth, doing what he does best in finding those tough pucks in front of the net. But after the goal Detroit got running around their own end chasing the play, and eventually Staal got called for a high-sticking penalty with 0:37 to play. After clearing the puck with 0:12 left, Florida quickly came up the ice, and hit Barkov with a pass just to the left of the net, he shovelled it towards the goal where Greiss scrambled to try and gather the puck. But eventually Yandle found it and fired it over a sprawled Greiss and put it in the net with 0.5 seconds remaining, 2-2.

An unfortunate turn on a late penalty as the Wings had gathered all the momentum through the last half of the period. Detroit closed the period with a 12-11 shot advantage and showing some life offensively that hadn’t been seen in awhile. The Wings were looking good other than the penalty kill, with the obvious message at the intermission to be stay out of the box.

2nd Period

Larkin got knocked down early in the period and went back after the perpetrator with a few good cross-checks, all in the neutral zone, neither was called. Greiss had to come up with a big save on Barkov after the Panther forward tried to outwait him and tuck a puck in the short side, but Greiss extended his glove to snatch the puck.

Shortly after, Filppula took a tripping penalty after getting a bit careless with his stick positioning at the defensive blueline. This time the Detroit penalty kill did a good job keeping the Panthers to the outside only giving up one chance late in the powerplay. For the first time tonight, Detroit killed off a penalty.

Florida carried the play early in the period with a couple of scoring chances. Detroit only had one shot in the period through the first 6:30. Then Filppula drew a tripping penalty on Yandle, trying to even up for his earlier gaffe. The Detroit powerplay continued to roll out players without Mantha and Larkin, trying some new looks to get something going. But as it has been all season, the powerplay entries were not good and even when they did setup, they were predictable and too slow moving the puck around the outside.

Detroit got their first chance of the period when Mantha gathered a bouncing puck in the neutral zone and gained the blueline before dropping to Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi fired a shot just high with Mantha driving the net. Just after that Darren Helm drew a another Yandle tripping penalty in the corner giving the Red Wings another powerplay opportunity. This time Larkin and Mantha did get some time, but not until the latter part of the powerplay. The team generated a couple of shots on the man advantage but nothing more.

With 7:00 remaining, Detroit had again gotten back to even in shots at 17 apiece after a slow start to the period. The next few minutes were uneventful for either side. Late in the period Stetcher drew a holding penalty in his own end after getting good position on a loose puck over Huberdeau who extended his reach too far trying to gain the upper hand. The Wings carried the powerplay over the 3rd period.

This period was fairly uneventful, especially compared to the 1st period. The teams finished the period with a total of 21 shots each.

3rd Period

The Wings opened the period with more of their traditional powerplay guys with Larkin and Mantha both on the ice. Unfortunately they still weren’t able to generate a good chance before the penalty expired.

The period ticked down to 16:00 before a shot was put on net by either team. Hronek tried a smart shot pass with Nielsen to the far post and Rasmussen screening on the short side. But Gudas made a smart play to move to Nielsen and deflect the pass away just in time. Detroit got caught up in a bit of a scramble in their own end afterwards but no harm, no foul. Barkov and Hirose had a big collision when the two skated into each other unintentionally. Barkov skated hunched over to the bench afterwards. Then two Florida players collided with each other at the Detroit blueline which led to a Detroit chance and a scramble at the Florida net. Barkov later returned to the game after his earlier dustup.

Detroit got a good chance after Ryan picked off a pass in the Detroit zone. He gained the offensive zone and dropped a pass for Larkin trailing the play. Larkin’s shot from the high slot was deflected over the net before Bobrovsky eventually grabbed it with Ryan falling over him.

Bertuzzi apparently left the game with an upper body injury and the team indicated he would not return. There wasn’t an obvious play where he had gone down but that was certainly unwelcome news for a team already short several of their offensive players.

Mantha got another scoring chance when he received a pass from Hirose from the side wall to the top of the crease, Mantha attempted to make a backhand-forehand move before sending it wide.

Nemeth delivered a big hit stepping up at the Detroit blueline when a Panther forward attempted to chip a puck past him.

Bobby Ryan made a great individual play walking a defenseman with a nice outside to inside play before the other Panthers defender came over to help and knocked the puck away before Ryan could get a shot off. It was Brome who found himself filling the hole left by Bertuzzi’s absence on a line with Larkin and Ryan.

Glendening was hurt behind the Florida net when he was hit from behind by Weegar. Glendening was bloodied on the play which was blown down but with no penalty. The initial look at the play seemed a call should have been warranted. But Glendening was also a factor in the injury as he tried to reverse direction and ended up face first into the boards. But ultimately Weegar has to pull up there and not drive the player into the boards that way.

Brome came so close to breaking the tie when Ryan forced a turnover along the boards in the Florida end. He quickly threw a pass to Brome at the net front, who attempted the Peter Forsberg one hand deke to beat Bobrovsky but couldn’t quite sweep it in, with the puck left sitting in the crease before being cleared.

After the Brome chance, the clocked ticked down to the end of the period with both teams seemingly happy to take this one to overtime. Glendening after going back for repairs returned to the bench just before the end of regulation and getting a quick shift in.

The 3rd period was a bit slow overall with both teams managing only 5 shots each, for a regulation total of 26 a side.

Overtime

Detroit opened overtime with Larkin, Ryan, and Hronek. After taking the opening faceoff, Larkin took a high-stick that went uncalled. After Larkin grabbed another stick, Ryan hit him with a long pass to create a 2 on 1 for Larkin and Ryan. Larkin’s shot attempt on the play was deflected wide. Detroit later got back possession and Larkin fought off Ekblad through the neutral zone taking a couple of whacks along the way.

Mantha led the charge with the next group out as they maintained control of the puck in the offensive zone. Detroit eventually put a shot to the net off the stick of Namestnikov but Bobrovsky swallowed it without a rebound.

It was Florida who got possession off the faceoff this time. They worked the puck to the speedy Duclair who raced down the right side and caught Larkin unable to defend him as he drove the net but the puck was steered to the corner by Greiss. Later in the shift Larkin turned the puck over at the Florida blueline and had to give chase to Duclair again and couldn’t catch him. Luckily Greiss was equal to the challenge and stopped the breakaway chance.

But just after the save, the scramble ended up back on Duclair’s stick. Duclair took the puck down the right side in a 2 on 1 situation, eventually drawing the defender to him before sliding the puck across the crease to Heponiemi who promptly put it past Greiss before he could get across. Panthers win 3-2.

Wrapping Up

It’s been a long recap. By the time you got here you probably forgot didn’t you. Let me pull something from earlier in the first period.

After the commercial break, the broadcast noted that Heponiemi was playing his first NHL game. So collectively Wings fans groaned as that likely meant he was destined to score in this one.

I’d like to say I put that in there after it happened, I didn’t. Maybe it was a jinx. But we know this team too well and should’ve known better. The rookie in his first game buried the Wings in overtime.

Salt in the wound aside, the Red Wings had a pretty good showing in this game against a Florida team off to a hot start. Even with the loss, this one felt a lot better after the way they played in the Dallas and Chicago games.

The Larkin line with Ryan and Bertuzzi wasn’t dominant, but had moments to be sure and were more productive than anyone other unit. Bertuzzi’s exit was unfortunate and hopefully nothing long term as this team will be in big trouble if he’s out.

Mantha and Hirose were a good combination, with Hirose being best used as the facilitator to Mantha’s shot. They generated the Mantha goal as well as the chance for Mantha in tight alone. If given some extended time together there could be potential for these two together. That will likely depend on the return of Covid listed players like Fabbri and Zadina.

Brome showed an ability to adjust his style based on who his linemates are. Playing with Helm and Glendening, he played more of a chip and chase along with an energy role before moving up to Bertuzzi’s place on the top line where he was immediately able to adapt to a more skill and possession style.

Defensively there was nothing that stood out in this game as a glaring problem. The Wings had one problem and it’s one that’s been a problem all season long and needs to be fixed, special teams. Florida was 2 for 3 on the powerplay tonight, while Detroit was 0 for 4. That’s the difference in the game, overtime bounces aside. Even though the unit is struggling Blashill should probably try to work out the system problems by using his best players like Larkin and Mantha rather than trying to solve it by removing them to see if other pieces work. It’s the system, not the players.

Greiss was interesting to watch tonight. He found himself sprawled out a lot, and not every time was it necessary. He seemed to be laying on his side on too many occasions. He might be feeling the desperation required to play behind the Red Wings roster. He did however seem to settle in later on in the game and played more steadily, he may have made some intermission adjustments after talking to his coach.

All in all a loss is a loss but they at least played significantly better tonight. They’ll get another chance tomorrow against the Panthers in a short turnaround playing at 5:00. Hopefully they don’t lose Bertuzzi as part of that.