The Florida heat melted the Red Wings’ two-goal lead in the third period, and so the result was a bitter 3-2 shootout loss to the Panthers in Miami.
The Red Wings’ shootout woes continued, as Brad Boyes neatly fired a snap shot through Jimmy Howard’s legs for the game-winner on Florida’s last try before the shootout would have gone into OT.
Pavel Datsyuk returned from a seven-game absence due to concussion-like symptoms, and scored a pretty goal, re-directing a Jonathan Ericsson pass from the point past Tim Thomas to give Detroit a 2-0 lead in the second period.
Todd Bertuzzi scored a power play goal 10:26 into the first period.
The Panthers got on the board in the third period when Sean Bergenheim deflected a lazy shot from the point by Dmitry Kulikov and the puck trickled past Howard at 5:00. The tying goal came at 14:38, when Nick Bjugstad fought off Datsyuk in the corner, emerged with the puck, switched to his forehand, and popped the puck over Howard’s right shoulder.
FSD’s Darren Eliot pointed out after the game that Howard didn’t respect Bjugstad’s chances of going upstairs, and thus over-committed down low, leaving a gap short side, high.
“We had energy,” coach Mike Babcock told John Keating after the game. “But they just came after us and we didn’t execute coming out of our zone and they scored twice.”
Babcock used Daniel Alfredsson, Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist in the shootout, eschewing veteran shootout guys Datsyuk and Bertuzzi.
Tatar was the only one of the three who scored, slipping a forehand shot through Thomas’s legs.
When asked why he didn’t use Datsyuk or Bertuzzi in the shootout, Babcock was very frank.
“Those guys are 0-for. They haven’t scored. So you either try the same thing, or try something else.”
BOTTOM LINE: Too many third period leads have vanished this season.
THE WINGED WHEELER SAYS: The Red Wings only managed one point out of four possible against one of the worst teams in the NHL. The shootout woes are annoying. It’s a combination of a lack of clutch saves and too much dipsy-do by the shooters.