The Red Wings earned a huge win against the Atlantic Division’s best Saturday night. Goals from Pavel Datsyuk and three of Detroit’s best kept the Florida Panthers at bay in the third period winning 5-3 at BB&T Arena gaining a second straight win on the road.
Niklas Kronwall got back into action after sitting out the last week due to a sprained knee he suffered against the Rangers last week. Getting the veteran defenseman back in the lineup against the Panthers sets up for an important must win for Detroit. It was the first time they faced Florida since the Red Wings traded Jakub Kindl to them back in late February.
So far he has tallied a single assist during his first eight games. Howard gets his first back-to-back start for the first time this season with Mrazek still dealing with the effects of sickness. The win he got in Columbus helped out his confidence to be ready for a huge match against their leading division rivals.
They came out attacking the Florida end for a good while shooting six shots at Roberto Luongo while holding the Panthers back from taking time on offense. By the time half the period elapsed, Florida found their time to strike getting two off the mark. They got into position in the 11th minute where former Detroit player Jiri Hudler set up teammate Nick Bjugstad at the middle of the slot scoring one over the shoulder of Howard notching his 13th.
The Panthers put the pressure on Howard and the Red Wings defense nearly getting their score to increase. They nearly covered the spread between them and Detroit hunting for some more leverage on ice. In the late stages of the period, the Panthers handed the Red Wings a power play that Tomas Tatar wanted to nail down. After getting a pair of tries in the period, the young forward succeeded four seconds in with a drive from behind the faceoff circle recording his 20th on the year.
The period ended with Florida gaining time on the man advantage but they had very little time to get ahead ready to play out the remaining 1:43 left into the second. Detroit held strong on offense outshooting Florida 11-6 but was challenged at the faceoff winning just 56 percent of them.
The Panthers came into the second period on a mission as they put the heat on Howard right from the start. He did well in the early minutes with his defense clearing out the puck on many occasions. They couldn’t do much on a play near the boards that Datsyuk let go of sending Jussi Jokinen to the races. He had Vincent Trocheck on his tail sending the puck back to give Trocheck his 22nd of the season giving Florida the 2-1 lead.
On their second power play of the game, Florida charged with a barrage of shots at Howard and the Red Wings. Due to a loss of sight on the puck, the Panthers lost their chance for a two-goal lead on Steven Kampfer’s shot that the referee never saw go in. They made it count just shortly afterwards with Teddy Purcell recording his 100th career goal and 13th of the year on a second chance opportunity from behind the net that went off the skate of Howard and into the net.
Detroit was losing control of the game with seven minutes left despite having the lead on shots to the net. Florida’s offense was dictating the remainder of the second and their defense has left the Red Wings completely frustrated. The teams got into a scuffle in the last couple of minutes with it helping very little to changing up things on the scoreboard. Detroit got a late power play in the period looking to put the game within a goal before the third.
They made it happen with Nyquist sending the puck in where Pavel Datsyuk got a piece of the puck delivering it into the net before the Panthers protested. They were waved off on the interference call giving Datsyuk his 15th. It was a goal needed by the Red Wings to make it another one goal margin for them going into the third. It gave them the 12-11 edge on shots with some life back in their offense to make a push for victory.
The first mission for Detroit was to tie the game and with Dylan Larkin due to score it was more than perfect to put in the hands of the 19 year old. Larkin got a shot on a drive from Jonathan Ericsson where the puck rebounded to the rookie shooting it by the side of Luongo notching his 21st leveling the score at three all. The fight in the Red Wings doubled up on the physical side of Abdelkader got into it on the boards with Jonathan Huberdeau sending both to the box for fighting.
Two minutes later came a point for the Red Wings taking the lead on Luke Glendening’s legal hi stick shot deflecting Larkin’s shot from the boards giving him six on the year and the lead for Detroit. It call stood by officials after they checked the play and determined his stick was below the crossbar.
With things in control for the Red Wings, it became an intense ten minutes of hockey that had either one looking for a goal to either tie things up or end it in 60 minutes. Each had just five shots on goal with 5:09 left in regulation indicating the strong fight on defense on both sides of the puck. With just 50 seconds left in the game, Florida went for the empty net trying to get the tying goal and force overtime.
Detroit did work clearing out the puck from their zone for Datsyuk to get his second of the night on the empty netter. The last 37 seconds play fell off the clock leaving Florida with no choice but to accept that their rivals in the north fared better. One who took to a winning streak was Howard who more than deserved his tenth victory of the season stopping 23 shots from their squad for an .885 save percentage.
As he finds himself improving game by game, the Syracuse, New York native would try to make it three in a row after two days of rest when the Red Wings head to West Florida for a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday.