Panthers (29-27-12 70P) at Red Wings (24-34-10 58P)
- WHEN: 5:00 p.m. ET
- WHERE: BB&T Center - Sunrise, FL
- ON THE TUBE: FOX Sports Florida, FOX Sports Detroit
- ON THE DIAL: 560 WQAM (D/B), 640 WMEN (PB), 1370 WAXE (TC), Thunder 100.3 (Keys)
- SOCIALS: #FlaPanthers, #LGRW, #FLAvsDET, @LitterBoxCats, LBC FaceBook
- ENEMY INTEL: Winging It In Motown
- FLA IN SEASON SERIES: Game 4 of 4 (2-0-1)
- LAST MEETING: FLA 4, @DET 3 (SO) - (Recap) - 12/31/2018
- NEXT MEETING: 2019-20
- PROJECTED STARTERS: Montembeault (1-0-1 .887/2.95 0SO) vs Howard (18-18-5 .909/2.95 0SO)
- PLAYER STATS: Florida / Detroit
Scouting Report (Courtesy of Stats LLC)
The Detroit Red Wings, who visit the Florida Panthers on Sunday afternoon, have lost nine of their past 10 games, including a 3-2 defeat at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.
Some are calling Detroit’s stretch run “Lose for Hughes.” That’s a reference to center Jack Hughes, the expected first overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. The more the Wings lose, the better their chances to get the top spot in the draft so that they can add Hughes to their roster.
Meanwhile, the Panthers -- who are a long-shot to make the playoffs -- ended a six-game losing streak on Friday night with a rousing 6-2 win over the visiting Minnesota Wild, getting a franchise-record five assists from captain/center Aleksander Barkov.
Florida’s top line of Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Evgenii Dadonov combined for 12 points. Huberdeau had one goal and three assists, setting a career high with 72 points this season.
”Some of the plays they made -- the three of them -- were high end,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said of his top line. “We needed someone to carry us, and that was (Barkov).”
In his past 12 games, Barkov has 22 points, including 10 goals. For the season, he has a team-high 75 points.
He is not the only red-hot Panthers player, however. Second-line winger Mike Hoffman scored on Minnesota and leads Florida with a career-high 31 goals. His 14 power-play goals also rank him first on the Panthers.
In addition, Florida defensemen Mackenzie Weegar and Mike Matheson each had two goals to balance the Panthers’ scoring.
Panthers rookie goalie Sam Montembeault, making just his second NHL start, stopped 25 shots for his first win, and Boughner said he will get more playing time the remainder of this season. The Panthers also have veteran goalies Roberto Luongo, an aging star who is sure to be a Hall of Famer, and James Reimer.
The Panthers helped their young netminder by getting him early goal-support and a 4-0 lead.
”That took pressure off,” Montembeault said. “Last week, before my first game, I was really nervous, and the first period that day was the longest of my life. But (Friday night), I knew what to expect.”
Regardless of which goalie Florida selects on Sunday, the injury report figures to hurt the Wings more.
Florida is without a pair of bottom-six forwards: Denis Malgin (lower body) and Colton Sceviour (wrist).
But Detroit is without its leading scorer, center Dylan Larkin, who has a back/neck injury. He leads Detroit in goals (27), assists (35) and points (62).
In addition, the Wings are without their most-productive defenseman, Mike Green, who is out due to a virus. Green leads Wings defensemen in assists (21) and points (26).
With Larkin out, Wings coach Jeff Blashill has given more ice time to forward Andreas Athanasiou, who ranks second on Detroit’s team with 23 goals.
”He’s earned the ice time,” Blashill said of Athanasiou. “When he’s on, he’s an incredibly electric player.”
Athanasiou said he is well aware of Detroit’s injury situation.
”We’re missing two key players -- one up front and one on defense,” he said of Larkin and Green. “We need to step up.”
Sunday in the Atlantic (Standings/Panthers Playoff Chances):
- BOSTON (42-17-9 93P) at Pittsburgh (36-23-9 81P) 7:30 p.m. NBCSN
Idle: TBL (108P), TOR (89P), MON (79P), BUF (69P), OTT (52P)
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