Detroit Red Wings wilt under Florida heat in 5-2 loss to Panthers

Detroit Free Press

SUNRISE, Fla. — The Detroit Red Wings gave themselves a shot, but the Florida Panthers showed why they’re the ones chasing the Presidents’ Trophy.

They scored three times in 10 minutes Thursday at FLA Live Arena and the best the Wings could do was keep it close for two periods. They wound up losing, 5-2.

Sam Gagner scored the first goal and Tyler Bertuzzi pulled the Wings within 4-2. Pius Suter assisted both times. The Wings had to play with a short bench after Oskar Sundqvist was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for slashing in the opening minute of the third period. Sam Reinhart scored during the power play to put the Panthers up by three goals.

The Wings (30-38-10) next play Saturday when they take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the final game this season at Little Caesars Arena.

Gagner’s output

The Wings took the lead four minutes into the game. Marc Staal fired a pass that Suter picked up in the neutral zone. He attempted to pass the puck to Gagner, only a defender got a stick on it, so Suter regained possession and entered Florida’s zone and wired a pass to Gagner, whose shot from the slot fluttered under Sergei Bobrovsky’s glove. Gagner moved up to play on the second line with Suter and Jakub Vrana because Filip Zadina (illness) missed the game. It was Gagner’s 13th goal — a nice return on a guy making $850,000.

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Panthers roar

Much like Sunday’s meeting in Detroit, when the Wings started well only to be shredded in a 6-1 loss, the Panthers scored in bunches to claim the lead. Joe Thornton’s forechecking led to Noel Acciari having the time and space to score an equalizer on Alex Nedeljkovic at 9:19. The Wings went on a power play 12 seconds later but Jonathan Huberdeau had the best chance when he maneuvered up ice on a shorthanded breakaway. Aleksander Barkov netted his 38th goal on a power play, and Mason Marchment scored on a goalmouth scramble with 21 seconds left in the period.

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Bertuzzi nears milestone

Bertuzzi pulled the Wings within a goal at 6:15 of the second period. He had the puck in the offensive zone with Lucas Raymond in the slot as a scoring option. Bertuzzi held onto the puck and flung it on net, sending the puck high over Bobrovsky’s shoulder and into the twine. It was Bertuzzi’s 28th goal, and first in five games. He has three games left — he can’t play at Toronto because he’s unvaccinated — to join Dylan Larkin in reaching 30 goals.

Contact Helene St. James at 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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