The Florida Panthers have played six games this season, with four of them going past regulation. For the third time, the Cats had settle for just a single point, falling to the previously winless Detroit Red Wings in overtime.
The Panthers posted a win in the first period for the third straight game. Evgenii Dadonov hit Keith Yandle in stride on a 2-on-2 zone entrance and the defenseman fired the puck over Jimmy Howard’s reaching glove for his first of the season at 7:34. The secondary assist on the goal went to Nick Bjugstad. Detroit rookie Michael Rasmussen thought he had his first NHL marker midway through the frame, but it was overturned by replay, with Justin Abdelkader ruled as having interfered with Michael Hutchinson’s ability to make the save. Bjugstad would get a goal at the 16:10 mark when he quickly ripped the puck into the net from the left circle after an Aleksander Barkov faceoff win.
While the first period seems to be treating the Cats well, the second period continues to be a nightmare. Penalties to Bogdan Kiselevich (Hi-sticking) and Mike Matheson (Hooking) in quick succession gave the Red Wings an early 5-on-3 opportunity they would take full advantage of. It only took Detroit seven seconds to get the first goal. After Franz Nielsen beat Barkov on an offensive zone draw, Andreas Athanasiou sent the puck back to defenseman Dennis Cholowski, who snapped a long shot home with Rasmussen providing a screen on Hutchinson. Nielsen and Cholowski would pick up second points just 18 seconds later when former Panther Thomas Vanek slapped a short pass from Nielsen in to complete a Red Wings rush. Just 1:45 after Vanek’s goal, Detroit pulled off a dazzling passing play to forge ahead. After taking a drop pass from Nyquist near the blue line, Dylan Larkin went cross-ice to Darren Helm, who went right back to the driving Larkin for the back door goal. Florida would get three straight power play chances, but the Cats could convert to even the score.
Barkov got loose on a breakaway early in the period and was hooked by Cholowski, causing his shot to go just wide and leading to a penalty shot, On the ensuing PS, Barkov decided to go forehand, instead of using one of his patented backhand moves, and fanned on the puck. A missed opportunity that set the tone for most of the rest of the period. The Panthers got the only two power play chances in the final frame and again came up empty. Vincent Trocheck blasted a shot off the cross bar with 6:39 left. Finally, with Hutchinson off for an extra attacker, Barkov won a faceoff outside the blue line to Yandle, and he neatly sent Mike Hoffman into the zone. Hoffman’s shot somehow found its way through Howard to tie the game at 18:44, salvaging a point for his needy club.
After a near miss at the other end, Matheson had a chance to win it for the Cats, but his bid to go five-hole along the ice on a clear breakaway was denied by the pads of Howard. It looked like Matheson might of rushed his shot a bit here, as he had the time and space to make a move. The game-winning play for Detroit came when Larkin took the puck away from Yandle at center and sent Nyguist in on a breakaway. Nyquist solved Hutchinson at 3:44 with a low wrister from between the circles Quite a first goal of 2018-19 for Gustav, and one the ended his team’s franchise record seven-game losing streak to start a season.
I don’t think many of us were surprised by the result of this game, and more than a fair share of us probably predicted this type of loss, which speaks volumes of where the Panthers are at right now. I think this Nick Bjugstad quote says it all “If we played three good periods, we match up against anyone. We have to figure that out.” Instead, the Cats stuck to the script that we have seen since the season started and that’s being consistently inconsistent. Barkov’s penalty shot miss, Matheson failing to finish an overtime breakaway, an 0-for-5 on performance on the power play, 37 shots on goal... plenty of chances for the Panthers to score another goal or two and come up with two points over the league’s worst team after finding a way to beat the Stanley Cup champs the night prior. Another disturbing thought, the Cats have now lost all three games they’ve played at the BB&T Center, two against inferior opponents. Teams that don’t win on home ice don’t go to the playoffs.
Video Recap (courtesy of NHL.com)