The Detroit Red Wings earn a much needed point in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers, dropping the season series in the process with only a game left.
The Red Wings came out into the first looking like they hadn’t skated in a week. They were sluggish, their passes weren’t crisp, there was minimal hustle in their game and they didn’t look organized. Florida would capitalize on it early, at just 1:48, when Sean Bergenheim found his way behind the Wings’ defense and went in on Jonas Gustavsson alone, putting one in past him on the backhand making it 1-0 Panthers early. Detroit would fail to score through the first twenty, and left the period trailing in shots 11-10.
The second period went much more what they expected the night to. At 8:12, Florida turned the puck over in the corner of their own zone, and it was picked up by Gustav Nyquist who put a quick wrister under Tim Thomas who wasn’t expecting the shot, tying the game 1-1. The next goal came just under a minute and a half later, at 9:31, when Brendan Smith put a slapshot purposely wide of the net and off the boards, allowing Daniel Alfredsson to corral the rebound and chip it past Thomas to make it 2-1 Red Wings. They’d strike again in the closing moments of the period on a power play, at 18:15, when Tomas Tatar sent a pass to Riley Sheahan in front of the net, who quickly spun with the puck and put it 5-hole on Thomas to take a 3-1 lead leaving the second period. Shots were 22-20 in favor of Detroit.
The third period almost completely fell apart for Detroit. Florida struck again roughly halfway through the period, when Jesse Winchester batted a puck over Gustavsson’s arm after he made an initial save in a scrum in front of the net, making it 3-2 Detroit. The Wings would answer, though, at 13:33, on a beautiful passing play between Sheahan, Tomas Jurco, and the eventual goal scorer Tatar. Sheahan took the pass in front of Thomas and did a wonderful job protecting the puck, getting to Tatar who quickly roofed it to regain the 2-goal lead, 4-2. Florida would sway momentum in their direction again, though, at 14:28, when Drew Shore took an open pass in front of the Red Wing net, everyone paying attention to the previous puck carrier, and put it into the open net to cut the lead back to one, 4-3. An unfortunate break on a power play later in the period would result in the tying goal. A bad pinch in by Nyquist allowed an odd-man rush against, with Brad Boyes putting the puck through Gustavsson to tie the game, and eventually end up at a shootout. Shots through 65 minutes ended at 37-30 in favor of Florida.
The lone goal of the shootout would be scored by Nick Bjugstad, who put a quick wrister over Gustavsson top-corner. Thomas stopped Tatar, Alfredsson, and Patrick Eaves, who had scored in his previous shootout attempt against Chicago. They would take the 5-4 shootout victory.
While the point is important, the more important thing to remember is that “defense wins championships”. The same can be applied to the regular season. Being up 4-2, they should have just tied the game down and played responsibly, but they failed to do so and paid for it with a point. Next game is on Tuesday, the first road game in five, against the Philadelphia Flyers. See you then, Nation.