DETROIT (AP) — It was a night for ending droughts as far as the Florida Panthers were concerned.
The Panthers hadn’t won in overtime all season. Defenseman Mike Matheson hadn’t scored a goal all season. But in one quick shot, both of those slumps came to a halt.
Matheson scored his first goal since April 6 to give the Panthers a 2-1 overtime decision over the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night.
Matheson drove the rebound of a Nick Bjugstad shot into the net behind Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard at the 2:02 mark of the overtime period for the winner, as Florida improved to 1-2 in OT, rallying from a 1-0 third-period deficit for the victory.
“That was a huge win that we really needed, especially in our division,” Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau said. “We weren’t very good in the first period, but we came back and played the way we need to play in the second and third.”
Vincent Trocheck also scored for the Panthers, while Henrik Zetterberg scored for the Wings, who are 0-5 in overtime.
Even though he was without a goal this season, Panthers coach Bob Boughner viewed Matheson as a valuable commodity to have on the ice during the five-minute, three-on-three OT session.
” He’s great in three-on-three, because he has such great speed and he moves his feet so well,” Boughner said
The Wings grabbed the lead in the first period. Ending a 22-game goal drought, Zetterberg opened the scoring at the 18:27 mark. Matheson blocked Zetterberg’s original shot, but the Detroit captain picked up the rebound and snapped a low shot through the pads of Florida goalie James Reimer.
“It was nice to see the puck go in,” Zetterberg said. But while he ended his scoring slump, center Dylan Larkin, who leads the Wings in scoring with 23 points, saw his goalless run extend to 10 games.
“You can’t overthink it,” Zetterberg said. “I think Larks has been playing great at both ends of the ice. He’s really good defensively, plays good on the PK, and creates a lot of offensive chances for him and his linemates.
“He’s just got to keep playing the way he does. He will produce a lot of goals here soon.”
The Panthers tied the score during a third-period power play at the 10:11 mark. Huberdeau went down after being cross-checked by Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall, but as he lay on the ice, Huberdeau slipped a pass back across the front of the net to Trocheck, whose quick shot banked into the Detroit net off the outstretched glove of Howard.
“I really didn’t have anything going on tonight – I felt like I was kind of floating around,” Trocheck said. “But Hubs gave me such a great pass that I pretty much had to score.
“That was a great play.”
Despite outshooting the Panthers 35-29, the Wings dropped to 1-6-3 in their last nine games.
“I’m still wondering how we lost that game,” Wings defenseman Luke Witkowski said. “I don’t know how many Grade A scoring chances we had.
“Reimer did a really good job tonight. I think he won the game.”
NOTES: Panthers C Aleksandr Barkov, who leads the team with eight multi-point games, returned to the lineup after missing Saturday’s 7-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche with an upper-body injury. . Red Wings D/RW Luke Witkowski saw his first action since the conclusion of his 10-game NHL suspension for returning to the ice to rejoin a fight Nov. 9 against the Calgary Flames, and fought twice with Panthers C Micheal Haley, who leads the NHL with nine fighting majors.
Panthers: In Chicago Tuesday to face the Blackhawks in the second game of their five-game road trip.
Red Wings: Play the fourth game of a five-game homestand Wednesday against the Boston Bruins.