The Detroit Red Wings had their four-game winning streaked snapped by the Florida Panthers Tuesday night. It was the first of ten home games that will take place in the month of December.
“I think we’re in a good spot,” said Tomas Tatar. “We’ll flush this out of our heads, and get ready for the next game. Obviously we want to win all the home games we can. It’s an advantage for you to play at home in front of your own fans. It’s a big month for us. We have lots of home games, which is easier down the road, and we have to take advantage of it, and try to win the most we can.”
Florida began the game with a lot of energy, recording six of the first seven shots. This pressure led to Detroit turning over the puck a total of eight times in the first period.
Panthers captain Willie Mitchell was called for a hi-sticking penalty at 4:25, and then proceeded to receive a roughing penalty after the play as well. The Red Wings needed the extra two minutes, 22 seconds to be exact. Tomas Tatar deflected a Pavel Datsyuk wrist shot past goalie Roberto Luongo on the second half of the extended power play for his tenth goal of the season. Stephen Weiss had the secondary assist. The helper was Weiss’s sixth point in six games.
Unfortunately for Detroit, this would be their only lead of the night. Later in the period, Jimmy Hayes knotted the game at one, with help from Vince Trocheck and Dmitry Kulikov. Trocheck played his junior hockey for the Saginaw Spirit (four seasons) and Plymouth Whalers (one season).
The second period was no better for the Wings. For the majority of the stanza, their play looked very sloppy. Although they managed to lead in shots, most were not quality scoring chances.
Florida’s Sean Bergenheim took advantage of a Riley Sheahan turnover at 12:21 and scored his team’s second goal.
Trocheck would begin the third period by scoring only 27 seconds in, to make it 3-1, and number-one drafted defenseman Aaron Ekblad widened the lead to 4-1 before the midway mark of the period.
However, there were some signs of life in the Red Wings offense. Pavel Datsyuk was able to get one back 1:32 after Ekblad’s goal, and Gustav Nyquist made things interesting by scoring a goal in the game’s final minute. But this last surge of pressure would not be enough, and Detroit’s winning streak came to an end.
Captain Henrik Zetterberg thought the power outage downtown might have had an effect on his team’s play.
“I don’t think we were that good at the start. I felt the power outage was in our brains there for a bit. They were much faster, much stronger from the beginning. But we got the power play goal and got the lead. Then in the second, I thought we played a little bit better. But unfortunately we gave them two easy goals.”
“To me it didn’t look like we played any better in the second or third,” said Tatar. “It was just as bad. Bad mistakes, bad giveaways, and not many shots on net. They were just skating better, and overshot us.”
“We weren’t good enough since the start. Just have to play better. For some reason we didn’t play good. We won four in a row, but it doesn’t mean we can take a night off.”
Coach Mike Babcock wouldn’t give any truth to the power outage affecting his team’s play. “Ah, that’s all crap,” he said.
Nyquist addressed the twelve turnovers the Red Wings committed throughout the game. When asked if he thought the eight turnovers in the first period set the tone for the rest of the game, he replied:
“Absolutely. I thought all over, throughout the whole game, I thought we didn’t take care of the puck well enough. If you don’t do that in this league, then you’re going to lose most of the games. So we got to be better at that.”
With nine more home games this month, Detroit will have more opportunities to climb the standings before the New Year. There are two more games set to take place later this week, including tomorrow’s contest against the Dallas Stars, and Saturday night’s game against the New York Rangers.
Additionally, Detroit will have a chance at redemption, as they will host the Panthers again on Friday, December 12th.