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Red Wings roll to fourth straight win with 4-2 decision over Panthers

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Cats carry the play, but converting remains a problem

Florida Panthers v Detroit Red Wings

The Florida Panthers finished with over double the shots (40-19), but the Detroit Red Wings doubled up the Cats where it counts, on the scoreboard, in a 4-2 win for the home team at Little Caesars Arena.

Andreas Athanasiou opened the scoring 42 seconds into the action to put Detroit in the driver’s seat. Mike Green passed for Athanasiou at the center line and the speedy forward chipped the 50/50 puck by Aaron Ekblad and maneuvered his way around the defenseman before stuffing a backhander by James Reimer.

Jimmy Howard made 16 of his 38 saves in the first period to keep the Panthers off the board, including this fine kick save on Aleksander Barkov.

The Red Wings went up by two 7:08 into the middle frame when Tomas Tatar got open in front to receive a perfect pass from Athanasiou and fire it up upstairs past an out-of-position Reimer. Dylan Larkin beat Keith Yandle to a loose puck behind the net to find Athanasiou with a quick centering feed.

It looked like the Panthers were destined to go to locker room down by a pair until Mike Matheson took a pass from Jared McCann and channeled his inner Bobby Orr, or Paul Coffey for you younger guys, and scored a spectacular highlight-reel goal to halve the deficit with just over a second left in the period.

Evgenii Dadonov sprung Jonathan Huberdeau and Barkov on an odd-man rush that ended positively at 3:19 of the third with Huberdeau sliding the puck across to his pivot-man who beat Howard to end a seven-game goalless drought.

Detroit took advantage of a hooking penalty on Nick Bjugstad to bag the go-ahead goal at 8:03. Green set up Martin Frk for a one-time blast from the top of the left circle that Anthony Mantha tipped home.

Howard came up with a huge glove save on Dadonov with 6:32 remaining in regulation to preserve the Red Wings’ tenuous lead.

With the Panthers pressing for the equalizer, Gustav Nyquist put the game away at the 15:22 mark when he took a breakaway pass from Henrik Zetterberg and slipped the puck along ice between Reimer legs. MacKenzie Weegar forced a pass to Dadonov in a crowd and his shot was blocked by Denny DeKeyser’s skate and bounced right to Zetterberg.

The Panthers gave a pretty good effort in this one, but the Red Wings were the more opportunistic of the two clubs, making the Cats pay for their mistakes, while Florida piled up the shots and continued to have loads of trouble denting the twine on the road. The Panthers are now averaging a league-worst 2.14 goals per game away for the BB&T Center, a number that will have to improve if they intend on staying in the playoff chase. Columbus on Sunday is the next stop on the now four-game road trip that has yet to produce a point.

Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)

Gears & Sprockets

  • The win allowed the Red Wings to take sole possession of fourth place in the Atlantic Division while the Panthers dropped to fifth.
  • Henrik Zetterberg’s helper on Gustav Nyquist’s game-clinching goal was his 600th career assist in the NHL.
  • Aleksander Barkov led all skaters with a career-high ten shots on goal. Too bad he could only solve Jimmy Howard once.
  • James Reimer finished with 15 saves on just 19 shots and fell to 11-11-4 on the season.
  • In addition to the four that counted, the efficient Red Wings had two goals disallowed after reviews.
  • Defenseman Mark Pysyk was only Panther to post a +2 rating. He also registered four shots, a block and a hit in 19:34 TOI.
  • Winging It In Motown has the other side of Game 3 of the season series between the two evenly-matched teams.