It’s supposed to be hard for the other team to win in Detroit, not for the Red Wings.
Playing the second of back-to-back games, the Red Wings didn’t get a bounce, didn’t get a break and didn’t get a win, losing to the Florida Panthers—yes, the Florida Panthers—2-1 at JLA, to fall to 5-6-6 at home.
The puck and ice didn’t cooperate and the Red Wings, one night after stifling the New Jersey Devils (11 SOG), let the Panthers loose for 37 shots on Jonas Gustavsson, who suffered his first loss of the season.
Frankly, the Red Wings were lucky to be in the game, as once again Gustavsson stood tall in net. A horrid second period (Florida outshot Detroit 17-5) highlighted the effects of the back-to-back for the Red Wings.
It was also a game where the Red Wings (15-9-7) really felt the loss of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, particularly on the power play, which looked disjointed and out of sync all night, especially late in the third period.
In New Jersey on Friday, the Datsyuk and Zetterberg of the future, Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, were the best players on the ice. Tonight, the youngsters tried, but nothing clicked, even when lined up with veteran Johan Franzen, forming a trio that was strong against the Devils but out of sorts against the Panthers.
Red Wings passes were a tad off all night, and there seemed to be a lack of communication on the ice throughout the game, often resulting in turnovers.
A bright spot was Daniel Cleary scoring for the Red Wings, snapping a personal goal-less streak that extended to October. Cleary’s goal came off a juicy rebound at the 4:06 mark of the first period.
Three minutes into the second period, Jimmy Hayes scored a strange goal to tie the game. Gustavsson appeared to have the puck trapped under his right pad, but the whistle never blew and Hayes jammed the rubber disc past the goal line.
If not for Gustavsson’s play in the second period, the Panthers would have been in control after 40 minutes. As it was, the game was tied 1-1.
But the Panthers’ second-year man Jonathan Huberdeau scored his seventh goal 3:29 into the third period, as he broke loose in front of Gustavsson, deked, and flipped a backhand past the Detroit goalie.
The slim lead held up, as the Red Wings just couldn’t get anything going. They were outshot by Florida, 37-23.
BOTTOM LINE: This game proved that you can do without your big guns for a night or two, but more often than not, you will miss them badly.
THE WINGED WHEELER SAYS: The Red Wings are 10-3-1 on the road but can’t buy a win at home. Tonight could be mildly excused because of being shorthanded and playing two games in two nights, but the Panthers are awful on the road and the Red Wings let Florida have their way in the second period. This was definitely a game the Red Wings should have won, but deserved to lose—if that makes any sense.