DETROIT (AP) — Tom Rowe’s first two games in charge of an NHL team lasted longer than regulation, making him sweat it out to earn his first taste of success.
Aleksander Barkov scored on a breakaway 2:04 into overtime to lift the Florida Panthers to a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night, giving their interim coach his first victory.
The Panthers outplayed Detroit after a rough start. They lost 2-1 in a shootout at Chicago in Rowe’s debut on Tuesday night.
"In between periods I was saying, `We deserve it,’" Rowe recalled.
Rowe said equipment manager Teddy Richards gave him the game puck as a keepsake. Rowe coached Florida’s AHL affiliates in Portland and San Antonio and was an assistant with Carolina before moving into the Panthers’ front office and then behind the bench to replace the fired Gerard Gallant.
"Big win, first for him," Panthers captain Derek MacKenzie said. "Hopefully, there’s many more."
The Red Wings extended their point streak to five games after losing four straight and nine of 11, but were fortunate to get anything positive out of a night in which they struggled at both ends of the ice.
"We should feel very lucky that we got one," Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall said.
The Red Wings went ahead 1:23 into the game when Henrik Zetterberg scored on their first shot, ending a six-game drought.
"We weathered the storm," Rowe said. "The beginning of the game they came out hard on us, but we were able to get out of the first period with a tie."
The Panthers were close to skating into the second period with the lead.
Florida’s Vincent Trocheck had a goal negated late in the opening period when Detroit coach Jeff Blashill challenged that Panthers defenseman Jason Demers was offside. Demers then scored with 1:45 left in the first, pulling the Panthers into a tie on a shot that was redirected off Detroit defenseman Danny DeKeyser.
The Panthers put much more pressure on Petr Mrazek, who stopped 28 shots in regulation, than Detroit did on Roberto Luongo, who faced just 13 shots over the first two periods and had just 18 saves through three periods.
"When you outplay someone like that, there’s a good chance you’re going to outshoot them," Blashill said. "They outplayed us certainly in one area because we turned too many pucks over."
Detroit had a power play with 3:14 left in regulation when MacKenzie was called for goaltender interference, but couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity.
On a night in which Detroit didn’t generate many scoring chances, it was fortunate get a goal early in the game. Florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad made a no-look, between-the-legs pass behind him in his team’s end of the ice, and it went off a teammate before Zetterberg got to the loose puck. Zetterberg took it from the right circle and into the slot for a backhander that went past Luongo.
Rowe insisted he didn’t have a problem with Ekblad’s pass.
"A little too risky, but we don’t want to take creative plays out of our players’ hands," he said.
Demers scored in a 4-on-4 situation on a sequence off a faceoff in which Florida’s other three skaters touched the puck.
NOTES: The Red Wings have been banged up this season, losing players at every position to injuries, and may have taken another hit in the first period when forward Justin Abdelkader left with a lower-body injury. "I don’t think he’s going to be out that long, but we’ll see," Blashill said. … Rowe and Gallant, who was fired Sunday, are former Red Wings players. … Detroit F Drew Miller along with Florida D Dylan McIlrath and F Shawn Thornton were healthy scratches.
Panthers: Play at Ottawa on Saturday in fourth of five-game road trip.
Red Wings: Start a three-game road trip Saturday at Pittsburgh.