Michael Matheson made the Florida Panthers first visit to the new Little Caesars Arena a successful one, scoring 2:02 into overtime to give his club a 2-1 comeback win over the slumping Detroit Red Wings.
Henrik Zetterberg lit the lamp 18:27 into to give the Red Wings a lead that would stand up for the next 33:42 of action. Zetterberg’s initial attempt was blocked by Matheson, but the puck came right back to him and he put it past James Reimer. Trevor Daley drew the lone assist on the goal.
Reimer, who finished with 34 saves, shook off the rather weak goal and kept the Cats within one until the offense finally awoke in the third. He made a big stop on Gustav Nyquist with Detroit enjoying its last try with a man advantage in the final frame.
The Panthers would finally get on the board a few minutes after that stop when Vincent Trocheck took a beautiful feed from a fallen Jonathan Huberdeau and beat Jimmy Howard for a power-play marker with 9:51 remaining in regulation. Aleksander Barkov picked up the secondary helper on Trocheck’s team-leading 13th goal.
Matheson picked a perfect time to score his first of the season to give Florida the overtime win and much-needed bonus point. The speedy defenseman started the winning play off in his own end by stealing the puck away from Andreas Athanasiou and breaking in on Howard, who denied him. Nick Bjugstad collected the rebound and was also stopped by Howard, however, the third time was the charm as Matheson knocked in Bjugstad rebound to end the game with 2:58 to go in the extra session.
With four more to go on the road, this comeback win should give the Panthers, and beleaugered goaltender James Reimer, a jolt of confidence. This was Reimer’s best performance since he made 42 stops in a 4-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on October 21. The Cats, who have climbed into fifth place, get right back at it tonight in Chicago. It will be interesting to see if head coach Bob Boughner goes right back to Reimer or if we get our first NHL look at Harri Sateri.
Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)
Spokes & Gear
- The Panthers penalty kill came up with a big 3 for 3 performance, helping the club stay close until Vincent Trocheck came up with the third period equalizer.
- Speaking of Trocheck, he now has 12 points (7G/5A) in 13 career games against the Red Wings.
- Henrik Zetterberg’s tally ended a NHL career-long 22-game goalless streak. Zetterberg hadn't scored since October 18, in a 6-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
- Fourth line winger Micheal Haley racked up 10 PIM, throwing down with Detroit’s Luke Witkowski in both the first and second period.
- Veteran defenseman Mike Green led the Red Wings with seven shots on goal. Aaron Ekblad had four to pace the Cats.
- Aleksander Barkov returned after missing the 7-3 loss to Colorado and logged 23:36 of ice time. In addition to his assist, Barkov had one shot, a hit and a block.
- Jimmy Howard made 27 saves for the Red Wings, who are just 1-5-4 in their last ten games.
- Winging It In Motown has the sadder side of the second meeting between the division rivals.