Recap: Panthers clinch conference with 5-2 win over Red Wings
Cats take two-point lead on Avalanche in Presidents’ Trophy race
The Florida Panthers won the Atlantic Division and clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference by motoring to a 5-2 victory the Detroit Red Wings at FLA Live Arena.
Florida won for the 12th straight time, tying the franchise record set during the 2015-16 campaign. The Cats have not lost since March 27th, when they dropped a 5-2 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who helped enable the double-clinch by losing in embarrassing fashion to the Tampa Bay Lightning at AMALIE Arena.
Mason Marchment registered a goal and an assist, Aleksander Barkov potted his team-leading 38th goal of the season, and Noel Acciari scored in his return to lineup after a ten-game absence.
The goals by that trio came in the first period after Sam Gagner opened the scoring for Detroit at the 4:08 mark. After Acciairi equalized at 9:19, Barkov and Marchment lit the lamp in a 48-second span late in the frame to give the Cats a two-goal lead.
MacKenzie Weegar answered Tyler Bertuzzi’s goal in the second with his eighth of the season, a new career-high, and Sam Reinhart completed the scoring with the third period’s only tally.
Jonathan Huberdeau drew even with Connor McDavid in the scoring race at 113 points by assisting on the Barkov and Reinhart goals. which both came on the power play. Florida went 2 for 4 with the man advantage.
Also collecting assists for the Cats were Brandon Montour, Joe Thornton, Anthony Duclair, Patric Hornqvist and Sam Bennett.
Sergei Bobrovsky made 28 saves to pick up his 38th win of the season.
Pius Suter set up both Detroit goals, Gustav Lindstrom drew the secondary on Bertuzzi’s marker and Alex Nedeljkovic stopped 22 shots for the Red Wings, who lost all four games this season to the Panthers, getting outscored 20-7. Detroit did get a point in a 3-2 overtime loss back on October 29.
The Cats cruised yet again, rendering this weekend’s back-to-back against the Buds and Bolts relatively meaningless. Florida is up by two points on the Colorado Avalanche for the Presidents’ Trophy. If they win it, great, if not, no biggie... By securing the top seed in the conference for the first time in franchise history they’ve got home ice advantage for the first three rounds of the playoffs, which can’t come soon enough.
Engines & Brakes
- The Panthers have scored 322 goals this season, the most in the NHL since 1995-96, when Pittsburgh (362), Colorado (326) and Detroit (325) all scored more. Their league-leading 184 goals at home this season are the most by any team since that same season, when the Penguins tallied 215.
- Florida’s league-leading 33 home wins this season are tied for the third-most in a season in NHL history. The only teams with more are Philadelphia (1975-76) and Detroit (1995-96), with 36 each.
- Last night’s win also marked their 10th consecutive win at FLA Live Arena, the club’s second home winning streak of at least 10 games this season behind their franchise-record 11-game home winning streak to start the season. Only two other teams have recorded multiple 10-game home winning streaks in a season: the 1995-96 Red Wings and the 1955-56 Montreal Canadiens.
- In addition to his goal Tyler Bertuzzi had a game-high seven shots. Moritz Seider dished out a game-high five hits while Michael Rasmussen posted a game-high four blocks.
- Sergei Bobrovsky’s 38th victory tied him for the league lead with Juuse Saros. Bobrovsky has earned a win in each of his past 12 decisions. The win also marked his 25th win this season at FLA Live Arena which is also tied for the league lead.
- For more on Florida’s season series sweep of the Red Wings, visit Winging It In Motown. See ya next season, Detroit!/