After rallying and coming up just short in Friday night's 3-2 home loss to the Colorado Avalanche, the Florida Panthers were somehow able to erase a 4-2 third period deficit and edge the Detroit Red Wings 5-4 in a shootout at Joe Louis Arena.
The Cats got off to a fast start when Sean Bergenheim broke in on Jonas Gustavsson and beat him five-hole just 1:48 into the first period. Dmitry Kulikov and Mike Weaver combined to spring Bergenheim for his twelfth of the season.
Florida and goaltender Tim Thomas managed to hold the Red Wings off the board until Gustav Nyquist tallied to even the game at the 8:12 mark of the second period.
Detroit would pile on two more goals before the end of the frame.
Daniel Alfredsson pushed the rebound of Brendan Smith's blast off the boards past a sprawling Thomas 1:21 after the Nyquist goal and Riley Sheahan would convert from in close with the Wings on a power play late in the frame to give Detroit their first two-goal lead.
Jesse Winchester would light the match on Florida's comeback midway through the third by battling in front to knock a loose puck by Gustavsson. Tom Gilbert and Marcel Goc would pick up the helpers.
A suddenly dangerous Drew Shore scored from Tomas Fleischmann and Gilbert 55 seconds after Tomas Tatar had seemingly put the game away for the Red Wings. Fleischmann had his shot blocked in front and the puck came to a wide-open Shore who easily deposited it into the yawning cage for his fourth goal at the 14:28 mark.
With Goc in the sin bin for roughing, Brad Boyes would lug the puck up ice from his own end to fire past The Monster on a 2-on-1 shorthanded break to pull the Cats even with 3:46 left. The goal was Boyes' team-leading thirteenth. Brian Campbell started the play by blocking a pass deep in the Panthers' end.
Thomas, who finished with 22 stops, didn't have his best game, but came up with big back-to-back saves on Sheahan and Tatar in overtime. He also got a huge hand from Gilbert, who went down and blocked Danny DeKeyser's shot, the third of the sequence, denying the Detroit defenseman the game-winner.
Rookie Nick Bjugstad showed off some sweet hands when he fired past Gustavsson for the only goal of the shootout in the first round, while Thomas denied Tatar, Alfredsson and Patrick Eaves to pick up his fourteenth win of the season.
It wasn't pretty, but the Panthers showed off some serious character and grit with a furious third period rally to collect a much-needed two points, getting the road trip started off on the right foot. This is the kind of comeback the better teams in the league make, so it was certainly nice to see the Cats come off the mat to pull out a big win. Peter Horachek has some things that still need correcting (consistency, power play, home record), but he definitely has the Panthers playing some feisty hockey away from the BB&T Center. Florida still has a lot (likely too much) of ground to make up if they want to capture a playoff spot, but props to them for keeping things very interesting.
Odds & Ends
- Erik Gudbranson was scratched to make room for Dylan Olsen, who returned after missing ten games with an ankle injury.
- The Red Wings were missing top guns Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk. Johan Franzen did return from a concussion and picked up an assist on the Nyquist goal by seperating the puck from Drew Shore.
- The Cats didn't give up a lot of shots, but they did give the Wings some easy scoring chances which Detroit promptly converted into goals. They need to clean things up in their own end a bit going forward.
- The Panthers out-shot the Wings 15-5 in the third period and finished the tilt with 37 shots on goal.
- Tom Gilbert has dished out six helpers in the last three games to tie Aleksander Barkov as the Cats' scoring leader with 24 points.
- Florida started and finished this one strong, but again didn't put together a full 60-minute effort, as they were outscored 3-0 in the middle period.
- The Panthers power play continued to provide absolutely nothing. Florida has now failed on their last 42 man-advantage opportunities. Man, am I getting tired of writing this line.
- For more on the game, check out Winging It In Motown It's imported from Detroit.