The Detroit Red Wings couldn’t turn an early lead into momentum, and once again their special teams were a letdown.
The Florida Panthers converted on two power plays Friday at Little Caesars Arena, handing the Wings a second straight loss at home, 3-2.
Jonatan Berggren scored a minute into the game, but the Panthers, a projected playoff team trying to work its way into the postseason picture, were quick to answer and used a power play to take the lead.
Jake Walman had a shot go off a post in the first minute of the third period, and Dylan Larkin’s golden opportunity from just outside the crease was denied by Sergei Bobrovsky’s glove. The Wings went on a third power play early in the third period, but it was negated after less than a minute by David Perron’s second penalty of the night, and Aaron Ekblad used the Panthers power play to score for the second time.
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Robby Fabbri scored with 3:43 to play, after the Wings pulled Ville Husso. The Wings got a fifth power play with 40.1 seconds to play, and once again pulled Husso to have a six-on-four skater advantage.
The Wings (16-14-7) next play Saturday at the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Ready, set, action
Nothing dull about this start. Just past the opening minute, rookie Berggren gave fans something to cheer when he deflected defenseman Ben Chiarot’s shot from the blue line past Bobrovsky. It was Berggren’s sixth goal; FIlip Hronek drew the other assist, his 20th of the season. The momentum lasted less than 90 seconds. Defenseman Gustav Forsling fired a shot through traffic that eluded Ville Husso, at 2:33. Then Fabbri, in his second game back from off-season knee surgery, put a hit on Anton Lundell that Ryan Lomberg took offense to, resulting in Lomberg wasting time getting in Fabbri’s face even as Fabbri was coming off a shift and Lomberg was getting on for one.
Husso came into the game looking to regain his form. He had surrendered at least four goals in five straight starts. The Panthers netted one on their first shot, but it was a good play. Forsling scored on a slap shot while Lomberg, Eric Staal, and ex-Wings forward Givani Smith hovered in front of Detroit’s net, interfering with Husso’s vision. Husso made a highlight-reel save late in the first period, when he Matthew Tkachuk had the puck down low. Husso extended his left leg to the near post, denying Tkachuk a prime scoring chance. (Tkachuk was named to the 2023 All-Star Game, joining Larkin). Husso had another great save in the second period, denying Eetu Luostarinen off a rush.
Second period, same result. Just as in the previous game, Wednesday against the New Jersey Devils, the Wings got the first power play of the game, this time at 1:36 of the second period, when ex-Wings defenseman Marc Staal was called for tripping Andrew Copp. The Wings didn’t get much out of their man advantage, failing to generate momentum. Just like Wednesday, their opponent went on a power play soon after — and promptly scored. It took the Panthers 27 seconds before Ekblad slid into the slot, allowed time and space to finish a setup by Aleksander Barkov. The Wings had a great push late in the second period, but came out of the period in a hole, just like the Devils game.
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 latest book, “On the Clock: Behind the Scenes with the Detroit Red Wings at the NHL Draft,” is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.
Next up: Maple Leafs
Matchup: Red Wings (16-14-7) at Toronto (23-9-7).
Faceoff: 7 p.m. Saturday; Scotiabank Arena, Toronto.
TV/radio: Bally Sports Detroit; WXYT-FM (97.1).