Detroit Red Wings get a point, but let 3rd-period lead slip away to Panthers, 3-2, in OT

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Red Wings played more to the identity they seek, getting pucks in deep and doing a solid job defensively.

They took Thursday’s game at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, to overtime before falling, 3-2, to the Florida Panthers. The Wings went 2-4-2 in the season series, falling to 12-21-5

Alex Wennberg scored at 1:25 of overtime.

Thomas Greiss had a strong outing with 33 saves, making his first start since being supplanted by Calvin Pickard for three games. Those two have shared the net since Jonathan Bernier left March 18’s game with a lower–body injury, but Bernier could be back soon — he skated Thursday and is expected to practice Friday. Bobby Ryan and Sam Gagner also missed Thursday night because of injuries.

The Wings looked much more solid than in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss. Adam Erne scored less than five minutes into the game, matching a career high with his seventh goal of the season. The lead only lasted seven minutes before Noel Acciari replied with a goal of his own.

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Givani Smith demanded notice with two fights — he drew stick–taps from teammates after trading punches with Riley Stillman early in the third period. Anthony Mantha tallied his 10th goal of the season to give the Wings another lead in the third period. That lasted four minutes, until Frank Vatrano converted on a power play.

Better start

Mason Marchment took Florida’s first shot on net less than a minute after the puck dropped, testing Greiss with a backhand near the net. Having withstood that early challenge, the Wings recovered and played one of their better opening periods on the road. They made it 1-0 at 4:21 when Erne tipped the puck behind Chris Driedger. The Wings finished the first period with an 11–8 edge in shots.

Stecher returns

Coach Jeff Blashill expressed after Tuesday’s game that he wasn’t happy with the defense. That led to Troy Stecher returning from sitting two games following his uninspired performance March 25 at Nashville. Stecher absorbed a crushing hit from Stillman in the first period and then turned around and fired the pass that Erne turned into a lead. Stecher played with Marc Staal, which has been one of the team’s most consistent pairings.

Big bodies

The Wings had a new look on a line in the form of Michael Rasmussen centering Evgeny Svechnikov and Anthony Mantha. That’s a big trio — Rasmussen is 6-foot-6 and 229 pounds, Svechnikov 6-3 and 208 and Mantha is 6–5 and 234. Rasmussen was especially noticeable on multiple shifts wreaking havoc around the net. He made a nice play in the third period, maneuvering the puck along the boards and finding Mantha for the goal.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. 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 AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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