Just as they’d built a modicum of confidence, a good opponent dismantled it.
The Detroit Red Wings fell behind early Tuesday at BB&T Center against the Florida Panthers, and their attempts to rally were denied by Sergei Bobrovsky. A two-game winning streak ended with a 4-1 loss, in the first of four straight games in the sunshine state.
One positive was Thomas Greiss, who had a good game in relief with 24 saves. On the whole it was a disappointing outing for the Wings, who fell to 12-21-4.
Greiss replaced Calvin Pickard, who was chased when the Panthers took a 3-0 lead a little past the midway point of the first period. Filip Zadina managed to solve Bobrovsky in the second period, but the goaltender had a strong period. He turned away Michael Rasmussen, Luke Glendening and Adam Erne in one rapid-fire sequence, part of an 18-9 second-period shot barrage.
STOCK WATCH: Calvin Pickard soars, Thomas Greiss plummets
The Wings had a fourth power play late in the third period. Anthony Mantha had a one-timer, but Bobrovsky wouldn’t give.
The teams meet again Thursday.
Goalies change places
Glendening won the opening faceoff, but Mason Marchment won the battle for the puck, poking it out front. The puck hit Marc Staal and slid to Jonathan Huberdeau, who had an easy tap-in for his 14th goal of the season. That was a bad break. But it was the Wings who looked bad on the Carter Verhaeghe goal at 11:27, when they were caught standing still while he flitted to the net to make it 2-0. Brett Connolly deflected Gustav Forsling’s shot 58 seconds later, and that was it for Pickard, allowed three goals on eight shots in 12:25. He replaced Greiss 7:39 into the Nashville game on Thursday, after Greiss gave up three goals on seven shots.
Zadina ends drought
The Wings converted on a power play at 7:29 of the second period. Dylan Larkin had the puck below the goal line. He found Zadina in the right circle, and he ripped a shot top shelf on Bobrovsky. That was Zadina’s first goal in 11 games and third point in nine games. Filip Hronek also had a hand in the goal, picking up his team-leading 17th assist. The momentum, though, was short-lived, as Verhaeghe netted his second of the night at 12:11.
Bobby Ryan is day-to-day with an upper-body injury suffered Sunday. His unavailability spelled opportunity for Givani Smith, who appeared for the first time since Feb. 11. Smith appeals with his size (6 feet 2, 210 pounds) and grit, but the key for him to stay in the lineup is puck management. Frans Nielsen was also back, playing his first game since Feb. 28, after a stay on the taxi squad. Nielsen replaced Sam Gagner, who missed the game for undisclosed reasons.
Contact Helene St. James at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.