The Red Wings lineup had a lot of changes to it for this game. Finally focusing on the youth movement and sending some of the older players out to pasture, Mikael Samuelsson was placed on waivers the day before facing one of his former team. Todd Bertuzzi was a healthy scratches, making room for Johan Franzen to return, and keeping the Grand Rapids Griffins line of Tomas Jurco, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Tatar together. Henrick Zetterberg, who left briefly in the first period against Montreal on Friday, was a late scatch, and Dan Cleary, originally set to join Bertuzzi in the Leino Lounge, was given a roster spot in his absence.
Florida wasted no time getting out to a lead against the Wings. Dimitri Kulikov’s long stretch pass gave Sean Bergenheim an opportunity and he buried a backhanded past Gustavsson with less than two minutes gone in the first period. Detroit’s defense was left standing still and Luke Glendening was caught in an awkward spot as Bergenheim danced between two of them to enter the zone, no one in a red jersey looked good on that play. It would be the fastest goal by an opposing team in the Joe so far this year.
Detroit had a few opportunities, including a power play, but nothing to show for it. Despite no power play time of their own, Florida outshot Detroit 11-10 in the first.
Gustav Nyquist, continuing to make me look like a fool, picked the puck up after Franzen stole the puck in the offensive zone and proceeded to fall to the ice. Nyquist beat the Flint, Michigan native Tim Thomas low to tie the game up 8:12 into the second period.
Not to be outdone by a youngster, Daniel Alfredsson put the Wings in the lead. Cleary started things off with a strong faceoff win, sending the puck to Brian Lashoff who quickly sent it to Brendan Smith. Smith launched a slapshot that went wide of the net, a move we’ve seen Nicklas Lidstrom do several times before. Alfredsson took a puck off the back boards and launched it at Tim Thomas’s mask. The puck bounced off Thomas’s face and into the back of the net. Solid effort all around for that third line 09:31 into the second period.
Jonathan Ericsson, being the sportsman that he is, gave the Panthers a chance to tie things up, elbowing Drew Shore 12:48 into the second period. Detroit’s penalty killing held the line, and once things were even strength the young second line came back strong. Brendan Smith got involved in what should have been one of the more obvious holding the stick calls, but turned out to be a penalty against Florida for tripping at 16:30 in the second. Sometimes you have to be lucky to be good!
The Red Wings power play lead to a real piece of art from Riley Sheahan. Tatar revieced a pass along the top and passed it up to Sheahan, who had parked himself nicely in Tomas Holmstrom’s office. A quick spin and a quick rebound got the puck behind Thomas at 18:15 in the second.
Sean Bergeheim, upset that a penalty was called against him that probably shouldn’t be and a goal resulted in it, tapped his stick at the referee as he exited the penalty box, as though to say ‘good call.’ He was shortly there after called for closing his hand on the puck, ever so briefly. Were the two events connected? You can be the judge on that one.
The second period also featured a great Dan DeKeyser shot that connected with in the inside of Jurco’s right foot rather than Florida’s goalie. Jurco was off to the dressing room with the trainers afterwards, fortunately he was ok to return. Detroit took control of shots in the second period, leading 22-20 after the second period.
The third period started with about 30 seconds of 4-on-4, followed by a Florida power play from a Justin Abdelkader interference penalty in the second period. The penalty killers held the line again, and Detroit had another goal against Florida waived off after Cleary had incidental contact with Tim Thomas. This suspiciously seems to happen a lot against Thomas but given that Brendan Smith really got away with one in the second period, these things all have a way of balancing out.
Florida had taken time to start getting ahead in the shot count though, and eventually tied it up. Gustavsson made a great first stop, but Jesse Winchest flipped it over Gustavsson off the rebound for his seventh of the season with 9:12 gone in the third. At this point, Detroit had yet to get a shot on goal in the third, and the game started to descend to a lot of pushing and hitting compared to some of the skilled play we had seen in the previous two periods.
Detroit continued to struggle to get shots on goal until Tomas Tatar decided he had just about enough of this struggling. Sheahan had entered the zone quickly and taken it to the point, deking the defending Ed Jovanovski to the point where Jovanovski had dropped his stick. He made a strong pass to Tatar, who sent it quickly pass Thomas and pointed to the rafters and his recently-passed father.
Florida replied quickly. Gustavsson had lostsight of the puck as it was being carried in front of his net. Tomas Fleischmann, carrying the puck, dropped it back to Drew Shore, who had a wide open net and took full advantage of it.
The Panthers seemed incapable of quitting so far in the third, and then Marcel Goc took a penalty for roughing against Darren Helm. This would not stop the Panthers from trying to tie things up, however, as Brad Boyes had a short handed break away and quickly converted it to a short handed goal.
The third came to an end with Tomas Tatar taking a stick to the face from Brian Campbell. The referees missed it, and Tatar made sure they heard about it, continuing to talk to them even after overtime expired. Bad calls happen, but there’s no way to know if it would have had an impact on this game if Detroit had four minutes of power play in overtime. It certainly wouldn’t have hurt though.
Detroit desperately needed to win this in overtime, and they started making up for a third period lacking offense. Tatar seemed to be incensed after having his forehead sliced open by Brian Campbell and not getting a call from it, and he lead the Wings to an offensive onslaught that just couldn’t get past Thomas, or in one instance, a defending Panther. It wasn’t enough, however, and the game proceeded to a shootout. The Panthers outshot Detroit 37-30.
Tatar, Alfredsson, and Eaves were all blanked by Tim Thomas in the shootout. Nick Bjugstad beat Gustavsson early and it proved enough to win the game for the Panthers 5-4.
There’s several factors you could point to that give cause for Detroit losing this game, including Zetterberg’s absence and a few bad calls by the officials. But when your opponent throws 15 shots on goal in the third period and you can only response with five, you’re going to lose more often than not. The Wings will look to continue their point streak with a matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday night.