Red Wings-Panthers Game 2 wrap-up: ‘progress made,’ or ‘lather, rinse, repeat?’

The Detroit Red Wings dropped a 3-2 decision to the Florida Panthers in the second game of the teams’ weekend series at Little Caesars Arena, which means that the Wings came out of the weekend with a single point (in the form of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime loss) against a Panthers team that’s 9-0-and-1 over their past ten games in Detroit.

The good news for the Red Wings is that they at least played with some vigor, vinegar and jam on Sunday–from players like Michael Rasmussen, Givani Smith and Troy Stecher as well as Mantha, Larkin and Ryan–and that’s good news, mostly because the Wings need to summon everything in their power to erase its 0-5-and-1 trajectory of late as it heads off for a 6-game road trip against Tampa Bay, the Panthers (again) and Nashville.

Just as was the case yesterday, the player comments–this time the comments made by the Florida Panthers–throw some cold water on any enthusiasm Wings fans may have had from the ways in which the Red Wings competed in this one, however. Florida Hockey Now’s George Richards noted that this game was, for the Panthers, at least, a case of, “Lather, rinse, repeat“…

As was the case in Saturday night’s win over the Detroit Red Wings, the Florida Panthers had their power play humming Sunday at Little Caesars Arena.

The Panthers got a pair of second-period goals from Patric Hornqvist and Aaron Ekblad as well as 32 saves from Chris Driedger to beat the Wings 3-2 and sweep the weekend series.

With those two goals, the Panthers actually held a lead going into the third period and expanded it when Carter Verhaeghe scored off a nice feed from Sasha Barkov.

Detroit got an Anthony Mantha goal with 1:48 left to cut the Florida lead to a goal.

”Give Detroit credit, they came out hot both games and played really good both games,” Barkov said. “But, we found a way to win both games.”

The Panthers felt that their ability to rally from another deficit (on Sunday, a 1-0 deficit) was a big positive, as they told’s Jameson Olive:

“We kind of had a little bit of action off the start, just got into it quick,” said Driedger, who faced down 13 shots from the Red Wings in the opening 20 minutes alone. “They came pretty hot. I thought after the first period we kind of buckled down and played some good hockey as a team.”

Going back to the well on the power play, Aaron Ekblad then put the Panthers on top when he blasted home a one-timer on the man advantage to make it 2-1 at 15:04 of the second period.

Pulling away in the third period, Carter Verhaeghe added a crucial insurance goal when he re-directed a sensational pass from Barkov past Greiss to make it 3-1 with 11:51 left in regulation.

In the end, that goal would prove to be the game-winner as the Red Wings managed to get one back late when they pulled their goaltender and Anthony Mantha lit the lamp on the ensuing 6-on-5 advantage to create a little bit of drama and cut the deficit to 3-2 with 1:48 left in regulation.

Off to the second-best start in franchise history, the Panthers improved to 5-0-1 with the win.

“I thought when we’ve been behind we get ourselves back in the game rather quickly,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. “I thought we had a real tough first period. I thought Detroit came out strong, had a couple power plays, some extended zone time and scored right off the bat. And then we caught up to the game a little bit. Our pace in the second period, I thought we started playing a lot more the right way as far as going direct on attack. Be it off the rush or in the zone, we spent a lot of time in their end… We found a way to get the pace in our favor.”

The Panthers continued accentuating the positive while speaking with’s Dave Hogg

“They came out hot, but after the first period, we buckled down,” Driedger said. “We’ve been down in almost every game, but no one is giving up. This group has a great attitude.”

Patric Hornqvist, Aaron Ekblad and Carter Verhaeghe scored for the Panthers (5-0-1), who defeated the Red Wings 3-2 in overtime on Saturday. Jonathan Huberdeau and Keith Yandle each had two assists.

Florida’s win was its first in regulation since defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in its season opener on Jan. 17.

“That finally happened,” Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said. “We’ve been working hard as a group, and we have gotten great outcomes. It feels like a fresh start for us, and we’re only going to get better.”

While the Red Wings had to admit that they let the game get away from them:

“We had a great start to the game, but we just didn’t generate anything in the second period,” Larkin said. “That just killed our momentum, and then we hit a couple posts and a crossbar in the third period.”

Hornqvist tied it 1-1 with a power-play goal from the edge of the crease at 2:03 of the second period.

Ekblad gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead at 15:04 with their second power-play goal of the period. Florida was 4-for-7 with the man-advantage in the two-game set.

“The game is always going to go back and forth. We’re not going to be able to control 60 minutes against a solid team like Florida like we did in the first period,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. “But it certainly hurts to keep having to kill penalties, especially when we’ve been scored on too many times during the penalty kill.”

The Panthers spoke glowingly of their own efforts, and captain Larkin could only lament what almost happened, as the Associated Press’s Larry Lage noted:

”I think there’s a new vibe around here,” coach Joel Quenneville said. ”Getting off to a good start enhances that attitude.”

Greiss stopped 27 shots for the Red Wings, who have dropped six straight.

Dylan Larkin scored to put the Red Wings ahead early in the game with a backhander after skating in front of Driedger on a goal set up by a short, slick pass from Givani Smith. Earlier in the day, Smith was recalled from the taxi squad because forward Tyler Bertuzzi is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.

”We had a great start, but we didn’t generate enough in the second period and it killed our momentum,” Larkin said.

Put bluntly:

Florida is 5-0-1, losing in a shootout Thursday night at Columbus, and its six-game, season-opening point streak is the second longest in franchise history. The 1996-97 team opened the season with a 12-game point streak.

”It feels like a fresh start for me and all of the guys in the room and we’re only going to get better,” Florida captain Aleksander Barkov said.

Detroit has lost six in a row after a 2-2 start, which briefly generated some optimism about a team that was easily the NHL’s worst last season.

Both coach Jeff Blashill and Larkin told’s Josh Berenter that the team made some progress on Sunday…

Captain Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha each tallied goals, but the visiting Florida Panthers scored twice on the power play, en route to a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Sunday.

With the victory, the Panthers secured the road series sweep and improved to 9-0-1 in the last 10 meetings against Detroit. The Red Wings saw their losing streak extended to six games heading into a road trip that begins Wednesday at Tampa Bay.

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill was pleased with his team’s aggressiveness, but reiterated the importance of closing out games.

“We’ll walk out of this game, we’ll have out-chanced them, but we didn’t win. So that’s disappointing,” Blashill said. “I thought, given the circumstances, back-to-back and Bert (Tyler Bertuzzi) out, not everybody 100 percent, I thought we played really hard. I thought we played good enough to win, but we’ve got to find ways to win these close games. These are the games we’ve talked about; we have to be in, in order to have a chance to be successful. We’re not going to win games 5-1. So we’ve got to find ways to win these close games.”

“We had a great start to the game and we just didn’t generate enough in the second period and just killed our momentum,” Larkin said. “But we came back in the third, hit a couple posts. It was right there for us tonight.”

As the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan noted, the Wings’ special teams battle was where they lost the war:

The Panthers scored two power-play goals, giving them four the weekend, while the Wings didn’t convert on three chances Sunday — and seven for the two games.

Still, by appearances’ sake, the Wings had quality chances and were much more dangerous with the man advantage. They simply didn’t score.

“The power play looked good, if you’re going to have those power plays consistently, you’re going to score,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “Entries were real good. We had our opportunities to score. We had chances to score and that’s all you want.”

Blashill sat Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha for several opening power plays Saturday, before returning the pair to the unit later in the game. Both were on for all four power plays Sunday, and both also scored the Wings’ goals Sunday.

“On the power play, there was less thinking and we did a great job on our entries,” Larkin said. “We just have to capitalize and get hungrier around the net.”

A main downfall Sunday was not being disciplined enough and keep putting a red-hot Florida power play on the ice.

“We want to be hard to play against but we can’t cross over that line and take bad penalties,” Larkin said. “Penalties around the net and needless mistakes. We have to be more disciplined.”

The Wings did drive the Panthers to physical distraction over the course of the 2nd and 3rd periods, which was a positive, but they were unable to generate power plays out of their altercations, which was frustrating as could be.

So now Detroit heads to Tampa Bay for two games, Florida for two more, and Nashville for a pair–the Wings leave on Wednesday the 3rd and won’t return until February 14th–and here’s hoping that the Wings can use their few practices and significant “off time” to watch video of them at their best, because that’s where they need to focus right now.


Highlights: Sportsnet and posted highlight clips:

Post-game: Fox Sports Florida posted a clip of comments from Patric Hornqvist, Aleksander Barkov, Chris Driedger and coach Joel Quenneville:

The Panthers posted a short Twitter clip of their post-game remarks:

Fox Sports Detroit posted clips of Dylan Larkin, Givani Smith and coach Jeff Blashill’s post-game remarks:

And the Red Wings posted an 8:04 post-game clip of comments from Larkin, Smith and Blashill:

Photos: The Free Press posted a 10-image gallery;

The Detroit News posted a 24-image gallery;

And posted a 40-image gallery.

Statistics: Here are the Game Summary and Event Summary:

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.