Oh look, it’s the Red Wings playing the best team in hockey on ESPN+. Again. Very frequently this season, we’ve seen Red Wings vs Panthers on national TV and every time, the win has gone to the Panthers. Most recently, the Panthers destroyed the Wings 6-1 just four days prior thanks to an explosive four-goal second period.
The Panthers are the hottest team in hockey riding an 11-game win streak as well as a nine-game home win streak dating back to February. The Red Wings, meanwhile are coming off their first-ever regular-season win over Andrei Vasilevskiy as they beat the Lighting 4-3 IN FLORIDA in their first game without captain Dylan Larkin.
Alex Nedeljkovic returns from illness to get the start for the Wings tonight while Sergei Bobrovsky is between the pipes for the Panthers. Filip Zadina, however, is a late scratch with a non-COVID illness for the Red Wings as Chase Pearson comes into the lineup in his place. Rough to lose the Zadina/Vrana pairing as they have been so good for the Wings lately, especially in that game against Tampa on Tuesday where Vrana had two goals. The puck drops at center ice and here we go.
Some confusion extremely early on as the Red Wings fire one off the post and multiple players celebrate as if it went in. Looks like Bobrovsky thought so too as he did not scramble to find it as it bounced around. He eventually covers it up and it’s rightfully called no goal. Chase Pearson also gets a great chance just a minute later as he carries the puck up on an odd-man rush but Bobrovsky makes a nice stop.
Sam Gagner comes up with a give-and-go with Pius Suter, fires a wrister from the slot AND HE SCORES! HIS 11TH OF THE SEASON GIVES THE WINGS A 1-0 LEAD JUST 4:08 INTO THE GAME!! The Red Wings are overall the better team so far. They’re playing great defense which feels crazy to say. Through the first nine minutes of the game, they’ve outshot Florida, the best offensive team in hockey, 5-1.
Staal gets the puck behind the net but gets it quickly knocked off his stick by Joe Thornton over to Brandon Montour. Montour fires a pass from below the goal line to Noel Acciari in the slot who fires one past Nedeljkovic. 1-1 tie with 10:41 left to play in the first period. Shortly after this, Gustav Lindstrom draws a minor penalty for tripping from Acciari and the Red Wings head to the first power play of the game.
The first big chance of the power play belongs to the Panthers as Huberdeau makes a great play to get a breakaway. However, Nedeljkovic stops the NHL’s second-leading point-getter to keep it tied at one apiece. The Red Wings just can’t get anything going and the power play ends without a single serious scoring chance.
You can tell this game has been consistent action because there are six minutes remaining in the first and there’s still only been one commercial break. The Red Wings get a chance on a feed to Sundqvist in front but an excellent stop by Bobrovsky keeps the puck out. The Panthers get a fantastic chance themselves due to a misplay by Nedeljkovic. He heads behind the net to play the puck and misses it and a Panthers gets to it first and throws it out in front. However, the Panthers can’t finish on the empty net and they finally go to the second media timeout with 3:54 remaining with the score still tied at one.
A beautiful feed to Michael Rasmussen on the breakout to the far blue line gives him a chance as he tries his best Elmer Soderblom impression dangling around Montour, but Montour stands him up and the chance is snuffed out. Shortly after, Rasmussen gets his arm grabbed by Gustav Forsling and there’s no call but then he pushes Forsling off him and he gets a roughing penalty. OK?
The Red Wings penalty kill does a good job of preventing any open shooting lanes. However, 1:20 into the power play, Aleksander Barkov gets the puck at the top of the slot and is allowed to just walk in and rifle one past Nedeljkovic through the screen to give the Panthers a 2-1 lead with 1:04 remaining in the first.
Well, surely that’s the end of the period, right? No more goals? Of course not, it wouldn’t be a Nedeljkovic start without a weird goal. Mason Marchment gets a pass blocked and it slowly slides towards Ned who can’t find it. Lucas Raymond tries to knock the puck away but appears to push Marchment’s skate into the puck and it just slides past Nedeljkovic to give the Panthers the 3-1 lead with 21.0 seconds remaining.
Well, that’s deflating. The Wings were the better team for 18 minutes until the refs make just a baffling call to hand the Panthers the power play and all of a sudden, it’s 3-1. The Wings have to keep it up next period, but that really is a rough momentum swing. Shots were 10-7 Red Wings for the period.
The Panthers get two really great chances early in the period. Mackenzie Weegar fires a slap shot from the point off the crossbar. Then, Sam Reinhart and Barkov have a two-on-one opportunity but Nedeljkovic makes a phenomenal save on the Panthers captain to keep the score at 3-1. The Panthers are just pouring it on the Wings early on and have already taken the shot lead just three minutes in.
About six minutes into the second, Tyler Bertuzzi gets the puck at the blue line, cuts across the middle and delays at the top of the right circle before firing a wrist shot AND HE SCORES! WHAT AN ABSOLUTE SNIPE FOR BERTUZZI WHO SCORES HIS 28TH TO MAKE IT 3-2 PANTHERS WITH 13:45 LEFT IN THE SECOND!!
The Wings get another quick chance as Jake Walman leads a great rush and makes a fantastic feed to Joe Veleno. Veleno tries to go around Bobrovsky who is able to prevent him from getting a good look and covers the puck.
A couple of minutes later, Bobrovsky goes to play the puck behind the net and Rasmussen throws a check on the Panthers netminder. Radko Gudas takes exception and jumps Rasmussen in the corner. Rasmussen comes away with a minor for goalie interference and a minor for roughing while Gudas gets a double minor for roughing to keep the play at five-on-five.
Since the goal, the Red Wings, have been the better team as they’ve gotten shots to 5-5 for the period. Another great chance by the Gagner-Suter-Vrana line forces another great save out of Bobrovsky. The Panthers finally get a few great chances in a row all sparked by an awful Danny DeKeyser turnover. Sam Bennett gets a great chance followed by another by Reinhart. The Panthers create several more chances, but Nedeljkovic shuts the door on all of them.
Bertuzzi finally stops the possession and leads a rush the other way and after a delay, gets a perfect pass to Suter but he can’t get a clean look off of it. After that, the Panthers continue to buzz and create chances as the ice is tilted to the Red Wings defensive end. Marchment wins a battle for the puck behind the net and comes out of the corner firing a pass to Weegar. Weegar fires a wrist shot over the shoulder of Nedeljkovic and gives the Panthers a 4-2 lead with 3:55 remaining in the second.
A graphic comes up on the screen that shot attempts are 20-8 in the second in favor of the Panthers. That early onslaught as well as that recent flurry have made a major impact on the period for the Panthers. Looks like there will be another goaltender interference penalty as Huberdeau goes into Nedeljkovic. Sure enough, they make the call and the Red Wings get their second power play of the game. Let’s see if they can manage to get even a shot on goal this time.
A scary moment happens early on as Seider jumps up and keeps the puck in the offensive zone. As he turns around, Acciari catches him with an arm right in the back of the head which causes Seider to slowly go off the ice. Unbelievably, there was no call on the play and the Red Wings power play once again fizzles out. The period comes to a close with the Panthers still in front, 4-2. Shots in the period were 12-6 in favor of Florida and are now 19-16 for the game.
First note, they tell us on the broadcast that Seider is not on the bench. Again, how that wasn’t a penalty on Acciari is beyond me and now the WIngs stud defenseman appears to be out for the game. Just 25 seconds into the period, Oskar Sundqvist two-hand slashes Lucas Carlsson up near the hands and earns himself a five-minute major and a game misconduct. I really hate that call. He didn’t get the hands at all and based on the complete missed call on the hit to the back of Seider’s head, to give five and a game for that seems extremely excessive.
Noted on the penalty kill, Seider is back on the ice so happy to see that. Don’t wanna speculate what was happening but good to see him out there. Through the first couple of minutes of the Panthers power play, the Red Wings manage to limit any prime scoring chances. The first scary moment comes on a wrist shot through traffic from Montour that rings off the pipe but stays out.
Shortly after, the Huberdeau has the puck behind the net and Filip Hronek inexplicably decides to chase him leaving both Bennett and Reinhart wide open in front of the net. The pass goes to Bennett who then finds Reinhart who fires it past the Nedeljkovic and gives the Panthers a 5-2 lead with 16:10 remaining in regulation.
The Panthers don’t get any big scoring chances after this and the power play comes to a close, but the damage has been done. It’s gonna be a big hill to climb in the final 14 minutes. Over the next several minutes, there aren’t any big chances for either team. Just past the ten-minute mark, Bertuzzi gets a feed as he’s streaking into the slot and gets a shot off but Bobrovsky saves it and it goes up into the netting.
A few more minutes pass with very little action before a scary moment where Bertuzzi’s stick comes up and catches Rasmussen across the face. The referees then announce a double minor high sticking call to Barkov which is an unbelievably bad call, but they review the call and make it right, rescinding the penalty.
Shortly after, Forsling attempts to go around Seider who then gets his stick up and earns a hooking call to send Florida back on the power play. Nothing really gets going on the power play for the Panthers and we head into the final five minutes with the score still 5-2. There still isn’t much action through the final five minutes and that will be how the game ends, with the Panthers winning their 12th game in a row, 5-2 over the Red Wings
It was an excellent start for the Red Wings and it was one bad call that turned the momentum in the favor of the potential President’s Trophy winner. After that, they showed why they’re one of the best in the league as the Red Wings once again allowed a team to put up a five-spot. Just four games remain in the season for Detroit as they take on the Penguins in their final home game of the season on Saturday.