The Panthers got a much-needed win in Detroit on Thursday night and it came in dramatic fashion.
All of the scoring in regulation between the Panthers and the Red Wings came during the 1st period, and it started with Henrik Zetterberg converting on turnover by Aaron Ekblad. The young defenseman attempted a blind, between-the-legs backpass from the defensive zone corner, but it was picked off and back-handed past Roberto Luongo, who made 20 saves en route to his 6th win in his last 8 starts, just a minute and 23 seconds into the period.
The Panthers nearly tied it up on their first power play of the night when Vincent Trocheck placed a perfect wrist shot into the top corner of the net past Petr Mrazek, but it was called back after the Red Wings’ challenge determined that Jason Demers had jumped over the blue-line before the puck entered the zone.
It wouldn’t say 1-0 for long, however, as the Panthers would get another power play on which Trocheck won the face-off to set up a Demers slap-shot from the point which deflected past Mrazek. After that, we wouldn’t see another goal until Aleksander Barkov scored the game-winner in the Panthers’ 2nd straight overtime and 4th in the last 6 games.
Barkov finished the game with a season-high 23:33 of ice time, leading all forwards in the game.
Roberto Luongo made an incredible save on a one-timer from the low slot on Henrik Zetterberg before Jonathan Marchessault sent a pass the length of the ice to Barkov who netted his first goal since October 15th and ending a 21-game goal-less drought.
The win was the first as an NHL head coach for Tom Rowe in his 2nd game behind the bench after taking over for Gerard Gallant who was fired by the Panthers on Sunday following the team’s 3-2 loss to Carolina. The Panthers earned a point in a shootout loss on Tuesday in Chicago, and Rowe felt it was a “moral victory” considering the tough circumstances.
On Wednesday, the Panthers held their first practice with Rowe at the helm and began implementing a revised defensive zone structure, one that focuses more on area coverage than man-to-man, and so far, it’s worked out fairly well. Detroit was only able to muster 21 shots – and just 19 through 3 periods – as the Panthers did a good job of neutralizing the opposing forecheck, especially in the final 20-minute frame.
It hasn’t been the easiest of weeks for the Panthers, but they’ve certainly worked their way through it, and now they’ll head to Ottawa for the 4th game of a 6-game road trip on Saturday. The Senators allowed 3 straight goals to lose in overtime on Thursday to the Flyers. Mike Hoffman and Ryan Dzingel scored in front of Mike Condon who made 29 saves on 32 shots.
The Panthers defeated the Senators on November 19th in Ottawa by a score of 4-1 with goals from Jagr, Jokinen, Marchessault and MacKenzie. Roberto Luongo made 39 saves.