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Wennberg gives Panthers 3-2 overtime win over Red Wings

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Cats wrap season series against Detroit with 6-2 record

Detroit Red Wings v Florida Panthers Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

Alex Wennberg scored 1:25 into overtime to lift the Florida Panthers a 3-2 comeback win over the Detroit Red Wings in the final meeting of the season between the two ex-Atlantic Division clubs.

Wennberg cruised around the Detroit net before passing to Gustav Forsling, who went right back to the center for the decisive one-timer from the left faceoff dot. Frank Vatrano made it a two-point night with the secondary assist on the game-winning goal.

The Panthers trailed twice in the game, but it didn’t take them long to answer each Red Wings tally.

After Adam Erne redirected Troy Stecher’s shot-pass over Chris Driedger’s shoulder 4:21 into the game (Riley Stillman lost his lid and had to head off, giving Detroit a numbers advantage), Noel Acciari evened it up at the 11:55 mark.

Keith Yandle slipped a pass from the blue line through to an open Carter Verhaeghe in the slot, allowing Verhaeghe to move in on Thomas Greiss. Verhaeghe was able to throw the puck back in front after he ran out of shooting runway for Acciari to clean up.

The Cats out-shot the Red Wings 19-8 in the second, but Griess, who finished the tilt with 33 saves, stood tall, sending the game to the final frame still tied at one.

Detroit forged ahead at 6:07 of the third when Michael Rasmussen’s pass went off Owen Tippett and came to Anthony Mantha, who kicked it onto his blade and got by Anton Stralman before roofing one on Driedger.

The undeterred Panthers struck back 4:32 later, with Jonathan Huberdeau centering from the left boards to Verhaeghe, who slung the puck over to Frank Vatrano in the right circle for the successful one-timer. Vatrano hadn’t scored since a win over Chicago on March 13.

No Aleksander Barkov, no Patric Hornqvist, no Aaron Ekblad, no Anthony Duclair, no problem. The depleted Panthers won their fourth straight game, matching their longest win streak of the campaign, and with regulation losses by the Blackhawks and Nashville Predators, opened up a 13-point gap on the playoff cut line. Florida out-shot (36-27) and out-hit (32-21) the Red Wings, and got 25 saves from Driedger, who hit ten NHL wins in a season for the first time. The Panthers improved to 24-9-4 and are tied for most points in the Central Division and the NHL (52) with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Barkov and Hornqvist are expected back when the Cats meet the desperate, but not serious, Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday in the first of a weekend back-to-back.

Cogs & Sprockets

  • Alex Wennberg notched his second career overtime game-winning goal, and his first with Florida. Wennberg’s goal represented the Panthers sixth overtime game-winner of the season, tied for the most among NHL teams. The Cats have won each of their past three games that have required overtime.
  • Noel Acciari registered his fourth goal of the season. He has produced five points over his past six contests. Acciari has really stepped up in the absence of Sasha Barkov.
  • Frank Vatrano led the team with six shots on goal and ended both a nine-game goal and six-game point drought.
  • Jonathan Huberdeau extended his point streak to four games. He finished the season series against the Red Wings with nine points (1G/8A). Huberdeau played in his 573rd NHL game, surpassing Roberto Luongo for the fourth-most games played in franchise history, while tying Robert Svehla for third.
  • Defenseman Patrik Nemeth collected the secondary assist on both of Detroit goals.
  • Riley Stillman and Ryan Lomberg each picked up fighting major against Red Wings forward Givani Smith.
  • That’s for it for Panthers - Red Wings, so make a final pit stop at Winging It In Motown.

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