The Florida Panthers stretched its season-opening point streak to six games with another 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesar’s Arena. This time the Cats managed to do it done in regulation.
Florida finished the four-game road trip with a 3-0-1 record and has climbed to the top of the Central Division with 11 points. That number matches the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have played four more games.
After spotting the Red Wings an early lead when Owen Tippett lost the puck in the neutral zone and Dylan Larkin took a pass from Givani Smith and solved Chris Driedger with a backhand 4:12 into the game, the Panthers struck back with two power-play goals in the middle frame.
Patric Hornqvist got the Cats on the board when he backhanded the puck under Thomas Greiss after his initial forehand chance was blocked. Jonathan Huberdeau took a pass from Keith Yandle and found Hornqvist open in front at the 2:03 mark.
Yandle would later feed Aaron Ekblad in the right circle for one-timer that zipped low by a screened Greiss’ glove to give the Panthers the lead with 4:56 left in the period. Yandle had just set up Huberdeau on the left side, but he missed wide. The puck came to Ekblad, who played catch with his power play defense partner before notching his second of the season.
Carter Verhaeghe gave the Cats some breathing room 8:09 into the third, that they would later need, when he deflected a nice Aleksander Barkov’s pass off Bobby Ryan’s stick by Greiss for his fifth of the young campaign. This goal was tight piece of work by the Cats, who made a total of six passes, three by Barkov, after crossing the center line to ultimately set up the former Bolt in the slot. Markus Nutivaara was credited with the secondary assist.
That's goal No. 5️⃣ on the season for Carter Verhaeghe! pic.twitter.com/6sVX07lQpx— NHL (@NHL) February 1, 2021
With Greiss off for an extra attacker, Anthony Mantha pulled Detroit within a goal when he converted in front after MacKenzie Weegar blocked Ryan’s centering attempt and the puck came right to him, leaving Driedger out of position, with 1:48 left on the clock. Ryan, who was really looking for Michael Rasmussen, and Filip Hronek picked up the assists.
The Red Wings applied more pressure, but the Panthers were able to hold on to post win number five.
Driedger finished the game with 32 saves. The 26-year-old is now 9-2-2 in a Florida uniform.
The Panthers get a few days off, after playing four times in six days, before hosting a back-to-back against the Nashville Predators on Thursday and Friday.
Cogs & Sprockets
- Jonathan Huberdeau still seems a little off (just 7 shots in 7 games), but his two-assist performance put him in a four-way tie for the team scoring lead with Patric Hornqvist, Carter Verhaeghe and Aleksander Barkov. Huberdeau matched Anthony Duclair with a team-leading six assists.
- Aaron Ekblad, who was born across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario (South Detroit, Steve Perry?), has scored 16 points in 24 games against the Red Wings, his most against any opponent.
- Florida went 4-for-7 on the power play in the back-to-back against Detroit. The Panthers need more at 5-on-5 and to get more secondary scoring if they want to beat the better teams in the Division.
- Anthony Mantha, who registered a game-high five shots, is up to three goals after scoring in both games of the weekend set.
- He’s on a different team now, but it was still very satisfying, at least to me, to see the Cats best Thomas Greiss on consecutive days. Greiss finished the game with 27 stops.
- Check out Winging It In Motown for the other side of win number five.