Recap: No panic in Detroit as Panthers hold on for 3-2 win

Ekbla’s pair of PPGs lead Cats past Red WIngs

Aaron Ekblad scored twice on the power play and Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves in one of his best performances of the season to lead the Florida Panthers to a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena.

The Red Wings opened the scoring at 1:04 when Filip Hronek crossed to former Panther Ben Chairot he snapped a wrist shot from long range that Jonatan Berggren deflected by Bobrovksy.

Florida struck back quickly, tying things up 1:19 later thanks to a hardworking shift from its fourth line. After Givani Smith backhanded the puck on goal, Ville Husso bladed it to Eric Staal behind the net. The veteran pivot took a beat before feeding out to Gustav Forsling. Forsling then cranked a half-slapper by Husso for his first goal in seven games.

The Cats forged ahead 6:28 into the second with David Perron off for slashing Radko Gudas.  Aleksander Barkov knifed into the Detroit zone and dished off to Matthew Tkachuk, who quickley returned to the captain. With the Red Wings focused on the left side of the ice, Barkov centered to a wide-open Ekblad in the slot and he buried his shot to end an 18-game goalless drought.

Ekblad would extend the lead 8:11 into the final frame for his first multi-goal since December 2, 2021. After playing catch with Ekblad, Brandon Montour set up Barkov for a low drive from from the right circle. Husso kicked the shot out, but it went right to Ekblad, who fired it home before the goalie could get over to the other side.

Robby Fabbri, whose interference minor led to Ekblad’s second marker, pulled the Red WIngs within one when he skated down a vacant right side and solved Bobrovsky’s blocker after Andrew Copp dropped the puck back to Hronek, who crossed to Fabbri, following a faceoff. The goal came at 16:17 with Husso off for an extra attacker.

Another Bobrovsky save and a big-time block from Eetu Luostarinen allowed the Cats to close it out and get the win in regulation time.

Among Bobrovsky highlights were forcing a breakaway miss by Jake Walman and stopping Adam Erne with his blocker on another breakaway in the second period. A huge glove save on Dylan Larkin and a two-save sequence on Lucas Raymond from in-close kept Florida ahead early in third.

The victory put the Panthers back at NHL .500 with an 18-18-4 record. This is just the fourth time this season that the Cats have won back-to-back games. They will be looking for their first three-game winning streak of 2022-23 when they visit the Central Divison-leading Dallas Stars on Sunday.

Wheels & Bumpers

  • Special teams were the difference as the Panthers got two power-play goals from Aaron Ekblad and the penalty kill was a perfect 5 for 5.
  • The helpers on Ekblad’s first goal of the night were both noteworthy. Givani Smith, a former Red Wing, collected his first point as a Panther. Eric Staal’s primary was the 600th assist of his NHL career.
  • Nice game for opposing defenseman Filip Hronek. Hronek set up both of his team’s goals, registered a game-high five shots and was credited with two hits in a team-high 23:32 TOI.
  • Speaking of shots, the Cats only managed 20 on Ville Husso, who fell to 12-8-5.
  • Sergei Bobrovsky’s 23 wins and 1.87 goals-against average against Detroit are both his best against any opponent.
  • Aleksander Barkov’s two helpers gave him 41 points in 37 games against the Red Wings.
  • Florida has won 18 of its last 20 games versus Detroit. Read more about it at Winging It In Motown./