An important win came in the hands of the Detroit Red Wings with the third period being the breakout for them. Tomas Tatar and Pavel Datsyuk scored to shutout the Florida Panthers 3-0 at the Joe Louis Arena Monday night. It was their first back to back win since November and a big two points for them. For goaltender Petr Mrazek his 23 saves produced another well deserved shutout on the night.
The Red Wings are back in the wins column and now that they are home for a while, they got the time to focus on big missions. Detroit took a beating against the Panthers Feb. 4 where just three goals were produced but too late to recover from Florida’s six goals. They hope to prevent them from doing that again after ending a five game losing streak at the Joe defeating the New York Islanders 5-1.
Detroit would be without the services of Mike Green who was day to day with a sore groin. With him and Kronwall who recuperates from knee surgery, it clearly left them weak at the blue line. Kindl made his way back to the lineup after spending time in Grand Rapids when he was called to replace Green.
While things try to stay together on defense, more would have to be done on offense from someone other than Dylan Larkin. The 19 year old leads the team and the league as a rookie with 18 goals and 37 points. The Red Wings would have to get everyone on the puck, as his actions can’t be done on his own.
Things were going smoothly in the first period but the challenge from Florida was already taking precedence in the period with both getting chances on the man advantage. While neither made anything of the time on the power play, further opportunities arose for Florida as Detroit gave them another pair of power plays that they struggled to get working.
By the time the period came to a close, neither one had made serious progress with the Red Wings outshooting them 9-4. Their late scoring chances helped them bring some fight to one of the toughest teams playing in the league.
The second was Detroit’s huge chance to make statements while they were around. From start to finish, they were firing the puck on Panthers goaltender Al Montoya who got his first start in over a week. Despite being pressured on his end, he didn’t give the Red Wings any easy chances to score through the first half of the period.
Florida started to regroup in the late stages of the period giving it what they could against Mrazek who was looking for his first back to back win in some time. He made some big stops in front of the crease denying Aaron Ekblad and a lone Jaromir Jagr trying to score while playing in his 1600th career game. It was the last of 11 shots that the Panthers took to try and get back into it.
Through 40 minutes the goalies were the focus of the game, as they hadn’t yet allowed a goal on 36 combined shots. With the third period left, the Red Wings would have to liven up things on the offense if they wanted a huge win against their division rivals.
Detroit was working hard when they had control of the puck and after four minutes of doing so, their time to strike was at hand. Larkin was the workhorse of the team as he once again gained control of the puck and moved it away from the Panthers.
He found Kindl open on the back end where the defenseman fired one through traffic catching the stick of Tatar to direct the puck into the net fir his 16th and game’s first goal after 44:19 of scoreless hockey. With Detroit holding the goal over the heads of Florida pressure soon followed for them as they gave the Panthers a fifth chance to even up. Just when the play kept inside the Detroit zone, they got called on a penalty sending things to 4 on 4. Detroit took over on the man advantage giving Mrazek some time to relax and let the offense search for another goal.
After trading off shots on net, the Red Wings were back on even strength with half the period in the books. They got another chance at 10:19 with Florida’s Reilly Smith tripping up Jonathan Ericsson. With half the time gone, Datsyuk found a chance to the fire the puck on a wrister that got the top of the net giving him his seventh of the season.
Florida challenged the play saying that Detroit was off sides before the goal. After a brief check of the video, officials determined Detroit was clear on the movement getting the puck fully across to keep him legally in play. He got his second just 68 ticks later with Zetterberg helping his mate beat three Florida defenders to the crease.
Things were in cruise mode for the Red Wing as time worked in their favor to skate off the ice with a victory. 4:12 was still left on the clock requiring them to finish strong toward winning. Before time could come to a close, Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader threw down with Derek MacKenzie as he pinned Abdelkader to the boards setting the Michigan native to throw one at him.
He delivered a big right hander before tossing him down to the ice that sent Red Wings fans wild. It was the last big play to come before time ran out giving Florida a third shutout this season and a fourth for Mrazek as he got another solid performance into the books. “The guys did a great job in front of the net and Datsyuk’s two goals was the reason why I had the shutout today,” Mrazek said to reporters after the game. “Every puck you stop is fun and it makes you better and confident and you have to look forward now.”
With players stepping up big in the win over Florida, Detroit would take the day off before hosting the Ottawa Senators Wednesday.