|Red Wings (36-25-11)||1||1||3||5|
|@ Panthers (40-23-9)||1||2||0||3|
The Panthers were not very offensively successful in the first half of the period. The Red Wings had nearly sole possession of the puck and the Panthers could barely get a shot off. In fact, the Panthers couldn’t even get a shot on goal for the first eight minutes of the game. They didn’t really pick up the pace after that first shot on goal, but Nick Bjugstad had some tricks up his sleeve. A pass from Jiri Hudler made its way to Bjugstad, who was able to tuck it home. Now, the Panthers were buzzing. Both teams had gone without penalties for the majority of the period, but the Panthers would end the period on the penalty kill because Jakub Kindl was called for interference. All the Wings needed was a few seconds and a shot from Tomas Tatar to tie the game up. The last 16 seconds of the period were spent on a Panthers power play after Justin Abdelkader was called for hooking. At the end of the period, both teams were tied at one but the Red Wings led in shots on goal 11-6. It took a while for the Panthers to get in the swing of things this period but once they did, they were dangerous. However, the Red Wings were playing well too. The Cats can’t give up now. They are playing a team that is fighting hard for a playoff spot and they can be sure that the Wings will be pushing hard to win.
A few opportunities on the power play that had carried over from the first nearly resulted in a goal, but Jimmy Howard stayed strong. The Cats didn’t give up, though. With 12:52 left in the period, Vincent Trocheck absolutely sniped Howard on a goal that went five hole. The goal was assisted by Jussi Jokinen and Reilly Smith. The Panthers would go back on the power play at the half way point of the period after a Brendan Smith holding penalty. The Cats nearly widened their lead, but the whistle was blown before the puck went in. Did you think the Panthers would stand for this? Of course not. Teddy Purcell scored a goal off of the rebound, assisted by Nick Bjugstad. Late in the frame, the Red Wings would have a power play opportunity when Alex Petrovic was penalized for high sticking. Yet, the Panthers got more scoring chances during these two minutes than the Wings did. Once again, the period would end on a penalty because Alex Petrovic was sent to the box (again) on a tripping call. With ten seconds left, Pavel Datsyuk scored to put the Wings within one. At the end of the period, the Panthers led 3-2 but still trailed in shots on goal 23-17. The Panthers needed to turn up the heat just a tad in the second and they were able to do that, scoring two goals while still holding the Red Wings off fairly well. The power play goals have been a killer for the Cats, so the Panthers must be mindful of this. Hopefully, they can finish off the game with a victory in the third.
The Panthers would start the period on a power play because Darren Helm tripped Aaron Ekblad after the whistle blew at the end of the second period. They couldn’t score on the advantage or even after it, but the Red Wings sure could. Dylan Larkin tied the game up early in the frame. Jonathan Huberdeau got a bit physical with Justin Abdelkader. After the fight, which Huberdeau rightfully won, both parties got five minute fighting majors. In the midst of all the frenzy, Luke Glendening was able to give the Red Wings the lead. Here we go again. Things weren’t looking great for the Panthers after that goal. The team looked like they did in the first half of the first period, which was not going to get them anywhere. As the game winded down, a Wings win seemed imminent. Late in the period, the teams would go 4-on-4 because Kyle Quincey and Jussi Jokinen were both called for roughing. The penalties were killed and the Panthers pulled Luongo with just over a minute left in the game. Pavel Datsyuk scored on the empty net to finish off the game. The Panthers have been undermined by the opponent after leading in the second far too many times and tonight was no exception. The Panthers lost this game 5-3 after a not-so-hard-fought battle.
Nick Bjugstad has really turned up the heat in the past few games and tonight was no different. He scored a classic Bjugy goal to give the Panthers an early lead. He also assisted the Purcell goal. Vincent Trocheck is an absolute monster as well. He scored a fantastic goal to put the Panthers back on top in the second. Teddy Purcell scored his 100th career goal to keep the Panthers buzzing. Then, of course, Kevin Spacey was hot tonight, keeping the Panthers fans engaged throughout the whole game.
The Panthers will head out to Madison Square Garden to play the New York Rangers on Monday, March 21st at 7:00 pm ET. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of that game.