Red Wings-Panthers Preview
Against two of the top teams in the East, the Detroit Red Wings’
offense has come alive. Keeping their strong play going when facing
one of that conference’s worst clubs should be even easier.
The Red Wings look to match a season-high four-game winning
streak Friday night when they visit the last-place Florida
Detroit (35-16-6) scored four goals and was blanked twice in a
four-game stretch from Feb. 4-9. However, after outscoring Boston
10-3 in a home-and-home series sweep last weekend, the Red Wings
defeated Tampa Bay 6-2 on Thursday in the opener of a three-game
Detroit scored twice in the first period and responded with two
goals in the final 3 1/2 minutes of the second period after the
Lightning tied it. Pavel Datsyuk finished with two goals, Danny
Cleary had one goal and two assists and Jimmy Howard made 38
“This is the standard in the league. This is the best all-around
team,” Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said of the Red Wings, who have
the second-best record in the West behind Vancouver.
The return of Datsyuk continues to pay off for Detroit. Since
coming back from a broken right wrist that sidelined him 19 games,
Datsyuk has four goals and three assists in five games.
Datsyuk also has registered at least one point in each contest
he’s played against Florida, totaling four goals and seven assists
in eight games.
With Detroit’s offense on a roll after defeating two division
leaders, the team will look to win four straight for the first time
since Nov. 26-Dec. 3. The Red Wings, who are 18-8-2 on the road
this season, have won four of their last five and 10 of 14 away
Currently 12th in the East, Florida (24-25-7) could struggle to
put up a challenge. It has lost three of four, including a 4-2
defeat to Philadelphia on Wednesday.
After the Flyers scored twice 65 seconds apart in the first
period, and leading 3-0 in the second, the Panthers had a potential
goal by Marty Reasoner denied following a review. Florida scored
twice in the third to draw within one, but lamented opportunities
that were lost early.
“If we had played a solid first, it might have been a different
game,” said Chris Higgins, a forward for Southeast Division-worst
Florida. “We didn’t show up with our sharpest game in the first and
it cost us.”
This closes a five-game homestand for the Panthers, who have
dropped six of their last seven at home, scoring more than two
goals only once over that stretch.
Detroit lost its only meeting with Florida last season, 2-1 in
overtime at home. However, the Red Wings are 7-1-1 with two ties on
the road in the series, and haven’t fallen in regulation at Florida
since a 3-1 defeat in 1996.