Detroit Red Wings at Florida Panthers game preview

BY The Sports Xchange • December 23, 2016

TV: FOX Sports Florida

TIME: Coverage begins at 7 p.m.


SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Detroit Red Wings went south to start the week.

Their luck and floundering season seemed to go in that direction, too.

Detroit (14-15-4) traveled to Raleigh to face Carolina, but the Hurricanes had a problem keeping the ice frozen, so melting ice forced the postponement of Monday's game.

Then it was on to Tampa Bay -- and the situation worsened.

The Red Wings, 3-5-2 in their last 10 contests, dropped a 4-1 decision to the Lightning. Worse was the way it happened: Losing starting goaltender Jimmy Howard (lower body) in a collision in the second period -- he was helped off by teammates Steve Ott and Drew Miller and placed on seven-day injured reserve on Wednesday -- and watching an anemic power play continue to fail.

Detroit addressed the goalie situation by calling up Jared Coreau from AHL affiliate Grand Rapids, and he will back up starter Petr Mrazek.

However, there's no similar quick fix for the power play.

Detroit, whose 12.4 percent success rate ranks last in the league, was typically bad on Florida's west coast, going 0-for-5 with the man-advantage as it fell behind the Lightning early.

The club is just 1-for-33 in the last 10 games and a paltry 3-for-50 in the last 16 games on the power plays.

"We lost the specialty teams battle bad," Detroit coach Jeff Blashill told the team's web site after the loss. "It's hard to win on the road, especially when you get down 1-0 early. ... We put so much pressure on our (penalty kill) because our power play doesn't score.

"To a man, we need to make sure and look in the mirror. We need to own that and we've got to be way better."

Added forward Henrik Zetterberg: "They won the special teams battle. They took care of it, we didn't. It's cost us games, we know that."

Detroit will find a tough and familiar foe in the Panthers (15-14-5), who have beaten their Atlantic Division rivals from Michigan all three times this season, twice in the Motor City. Friday's meeting is the final one in the regular season.

Florida entered Thursday's game against Boston as the fourth-ranked team in the league on the penalty kill, holding the opposition scoreless 85.4 percent of the time.

Making matters worse for Detroit is the Panthers have been better on the penalty kill under new coach Tom Rowe. Florida had the top penalty kill in the NHL from Nov. 29 through Thursday night's 3-1 loss to Boston.

The Bruins scored one power-play goal in the game, which was stopped for a brief ceremony late in regulation when Jaromir Jagr scored the 1,888th point of his NHL career.

The point broke a tie with Mark Messier for second place in NHL history. Jagr now trails only Wayne Gretzky, who finished with 2,857 points.

Jagr said he was hoping to score early, get the ceremony over with and get back to business.

"I've learned that hockey is a team game. Only team victories count. I just wish it had happened in the first period or a goal to lead it," said Jagr.

The right winger set the record when Michael Matheson's shot bounced off Jagr's body and onto the stick of Aleksander Barkov, who scored his ninth goal to make it a one-goal game with 6:40 left in regulation.

Jagr said he thought he knew everything when he was 18 and drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins, but he confessed he really knew nothing then.

He said he has learned by listening to others along the way.

"I've had so many great players show me the way to be successful in the NHL," he said.