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|Detroit Red Wings vs Florida Panthers|
The Detroit Red Wings gain a point taking the game to the shootout, but ultimately fall 3-2 to the Florida Panthers.
The Red Wings came into the match playing a very strong game. They had good possession and pressure in all zones. They had a bit of bad luck early at 7:25, when Jonathan Ericsson had a goal waved off when the official called that Daniel Cleary interfered with Tim Thomas on the goal. In reality Thomas initiated contact before the shot, and Cleary was only in the crease after the puck was in the net. They would officially open the scoring though, at 10:26 on the power play, when Todd Bertuzzi banged home the rebound of a Johan Franzen shot and Pavel Datsyuk tip. Shots through one period were 10-8 in favor of Detroit.
The second period pretty much went very well like the first. The Wings struck again at 6:47, when Franzen, deep in the Panthers’ zone, threw a pass back to Ericsson, who faked a slapshot, and threw a pass cross-ice to a waiting Datsyuk at the side of the net, who redirected the pass past Thomas to make it 2-0 Wings. Shots through two periods were 19-18 in favor of the Wings.
The Red Wings would let off the pedal just enough in the third period to let the Panthers surge back into the game. They’d finally get on the board 5:00 into the period, when Sean Bergenheim redirected a point shot to slip down between Jimmy Howard’s pads to make it 2-1 early in the third. They’d strike again at 14:38, when Nick Bjugstad, fighting alongside Datsyuk along the boards for the puck, beat him for possession and took it straight to Howard, firing a wicked quick shot in tight above and in to tie the game 2-2 late. Failure to put any more tallies up through the remainder of regulation or a 4-on-4 OT period would see the game, unfortunately, go to a shootout.
Strangely enough, Daniel Alfredsson went first for the Wings. He took the puck wide of the net and tried a late backhand, but it was staved off by Thomas. Aleksander Barkov shot first for the Panthers, putting on a few moves to pull Howard out of position and then dekeing it around him and in the net for the first goal of the shootout. Tomas Tatar went next for Detroit, quickly stickhandling as he moved in on Thomas and let off a quick snap-shot that found its way through the 5-hole to tie the goals. Jonathan Huberdeau shot for Florida, trying a spin-o-rama on Howard but he steered it aside with the pad. Gustav Nyquist was Detroit’s last shooter, trying a quick backhand wrister on Thomas that he easily steered aside. Brad Boyes would win it for the Panthers, bringing the puck in on Howard he harshly snapped it at the base of the opposing goal post, and causing it to ricochet in behind Howard to end the game 3-2.
Everyone knows the Wings have been a very weak third-period team. They know it, the brass knows it, the fans know it, and the opposition very much knows it. Florida, despite their troubles as a whole this season, has been a very good third-period team, and they capitalized on that to get themselves back in the game. Just a game after putting on one of the saddest-skating performances they’ve done this season, they decide to let up late in the game when still missing two key pieces to their offensive puzzle. People will invariably point to the waved-off goal as the blame, and while it would have definitely swayed momentum far into the Wings’ direction, it was still on them to keep the pressure on the Panthers through the last 20 as they did through the first 40; they failed to do so, and so we get 1 point instead of 2. Next game is Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. See you then, Nation.