|@ Red Wings (27-18-8)||0||0||3||3|
Early penalties seem to be a growing theme with the Panthers. In this situation, just over two minutes in, Aaron Ekblad was penalized for high sticking. Thankfully, the penalty was killed and the Panthers got their turn on the power play. Kyle Quincey was sent to the box for holding Jussi Jokinen. Just like the Ekblad penalty, this one was killed and the playing field was even once again. It was clear early on that the Red Wings would be out for blood after losing their last game against the Panthers just a few days ago. They were certainly putting up a fight and forcing the Panthers to play a very defensive game. There would be a bit of 4-on-4 action after both Jussi Jokinen and Justin Abdelkader were penalized for holding. These penalties were both killed but in a period stricken with penalties, the Panthers would get another power play opportunity right afterward. Kyle Quincey was the victim once again, this time for roughing, but guess what? The penalty was killed, unsurprisingly. Around this time, the Red Wings really thought they got one past Montoya but it just barely missed the net. The puck could not be clearly seen, so it may have gone in, but all that matters is that after extensive review, it was deemed a no goal. At the end of the period, the game was scoreless but the Red Wings had an edge in shots on goal 9-4. The Panthers were so focused on their defense in this period that they did not pay enough attention to their offense, and that really took a toll on them. Four shots on goal is certainly not sufficient, especially when the Panthers have their backup goalie in and have a few key players missing. The Panthers will really need to focus on their offense if they want to take the lead and win.
The second period began similarly to the first. There was not much offense from either team but all of the offense that was present came from the Red Wings. Al Montoya had to make a couple of huge saves to keep the Panthers in the game. Aleksander Barkov took a hit to the head by Abdelkader and Alex Petrovic came to the rescue to fight the call. In a strange turn of events, Alex Petrovic was the only one penalized and he got the call for cross-checking. Something doesn’t add up here. In an altercation that was much more clear-cut, Kyle Quincey (shocker) slashed Dmitry Kulikov and was sent to the box. Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad actually had a shot or two, but could not capitalize on the opportunity. In fact, in the rest of the period, the only person making real waves for the Panthers was Bjugstad. At the end of the period, the game was still scoreless and the Red Wings still had the lead in shots on goal 21-15. So, nothing really changed at all. The Panthers need to realize that Al Montoya can’t save everything. He has gotten very lucky so far and has pulled the weight of the team for most of the game, but the Panthers really need to start shooting because they were terribly outplayed in the second. They started to pick up the pace in the last minutes of the frame, but it was not enough. Hopefully, they can carry this momentum into the third.
This period started off with another early power play but thankfully, this one was on the Red Wings. Brad Richards was called for hooking and the Panthers had the advantage. They were able to score a power play goal in their past five games, but so far, they have not been able to keep that streak alive tonight. With that, the Red Wings had the chance to bring the puck back to their offensive zone, and they sure did. Tomas Tatar scored to put Detroit on the board. Jakub Kindl was called for interference after the Wings goal and the Panthers had the chance of a lifetime to tie the game. The power play was negated, though, when Aaron Ekblad was called for interference halfway through. The penalties were both killed but Montoya did not have an easy time doing so. The Panthers had a chance on the 2-on-1 but Reilly Smith was called for a tripping penalty before the shot could go through. The Panthers were really feeling the effects of Barkov’s injury. This became especially true when Pavel Datsyuk scored on the power play to give the Wings a two goal lead. Gallant challenged the goal, saying that the play was offsides, but the goal still stood and the Panthers lost a much-needed time out opportunity. The Panthers needed to figure something out and they needed to do so quickly but alas, Pavel Datsyuk struck again just minutes later. The game was all but over at this point. With just over a minute left, Derek MacKenzie felt obligated to fight Justin Abdelkader. He really did have it coming but Abdelkader is much bigger than MacKenzie is. With that fight, the game ended and the Panthers lost 3-0.
Nick Bjugstad seemed to be the only player putting in effort in the first and second periods. Although he didn’t score, his presence was felt on the ice all night. Brent Regner played a great defensive game in order to keep up with the physical Red Wings but he also was able to get some shots off. He proved that he could be a strong two-way force in a professional league setting. Derek MacKenzie should also be mentioned for standing up for his teammates in a game that was long over. It shows a lot about his character that people often overlook.
The Panthers will finish off their road trip tomorrow night, February 9th, at 7:00 pm ET against the Buffalo Sabres. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of that game.