A night after being embarrassed in a five-goal loss to the Florida Panthers, the Detroit Red Wings showed quite a bit of fight on Saturday.
In the process, they beat the Panthers for the second time in the past two weeks, this one 2-1 at Little Caesars Arena.
With the win, Detroit ended its six-game home losing streak to the Panthers.
Of Florida’s three losses in regulation, two have come to the Wings — who moved out of the division cellar, although it was only temporarily with Nashville beating Columbus.
“We had a decent first, I didn’t like our second at all and we had a few sniffs at it in the third,” Joel Quenneville said.
“It was tough to leave points out there. We get an equalizer, hey, you never know. We had a little press, a little push there at the end but it wasn’t enough.”
Florida got its lone goal on the power play, but ended up going 1-for-3 as Detroit shut things down and goalie Jonathan Bernier was on top of his game.
The Panthers threw up everything they had at Bernier and he stopped 38 shots — including all 16 he faced in the third period — to get the hard-fought victory.
Alex Wennberg got the first goal of the night, showing off some impressive stickwork in front of Bernier after getting a power play pass from Anthony Duclair in the first period.
The Panthers looked to keep things going in the second up 1-0 and Duclair almost gave them the 2-0 lead but Bernier stopped him.
Not long later, the Wings would kick into gear.
Detroit ended up scoring twice in the second period and were able to survive a late Florida power play that created a lot of opportunity to take a 2-1 lead into the break.
“We kind of shot ourselves in the foot in the second period,’’ Frank Vatrano said.
“We came out flat. At the end of the day, we end up losing. Sometimes when you take a period off, that’s what happens in the end.”
Florida was aggressive in the third but failed to put anything past Bernier as they head home 3-1 on this four-game trip which started in Tampa, went to Raleigh and ended with two in Detroit.
Bernier got the start for Detroit after he played the final two periods in relief of Thomas Greiss the night before.
Detroit’s defense did surrender quite a few shots, but was markedly improved over the night before.
”We didn’t have as much puck support as we did yesterday,’’ Quenneville said. “A lot of things went right for us and we expected them to be better. It had to be a hard night. Those are the kind of games you don’t mind being a part of; a tight-scoring game, finding a way to come up with something. We didn’t.
”You’re not going to get track meets every night, chances off the rush. You have to fight for your space around the net and make it tough on them. We didn’t do that.”
Sergei Bobrovsky, who wasn’t challenged much at all for the first 25 minutes of the game, made his first start since losing to the Lightning last Saturday night and ended his night with 25 stops.
The Panthers flew home Saturday night and will play host to Dallas on Monday night.
First period highlights
It was a tight first with the Red Wings looking like a team ready to turn the tables following the previous night’s embarrassment.
The two teams swapped chances, but the Panthers had a couple of prime looks midway through the period when Ryan Lomberg and Carter Verhaeghe were stopped by Bernier.
At 13:12, the Panthers’ power play got its first crack at it and it was the second unit which did the damage.
With 29 seconds left in the power play, Duclair fed Wennberg working down low and he did a dipsy-do with the puck, working it around Bernier — and even off his stick — before popping it into the back of the net.
Duke + Wenny making it HAPPEN on this power play 🔥 pic.twitter.com/rJDIL3dyPU
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) February 20, 2021
Detroit’s power play got its first try a few minutes later when Keith Yandle went to the box.
As has been the case this season, the Wings did not do a whole lot with the opportunity and Florida took a 1-0 lead into the room.
In the period, Florida outshot the Wings 9-5 and had seven more shot attempts as well.
Second period highlights
This period belonged to the Red Wings as they survived a slow start but ended up scoring twice to take a lead into the intermission.
After going close to 20 minutes without a shot on goal, the Wings started generating some offense and finally put some pressure on Bobrovsky.
Not long after Duclair’s backhanded shot was stopped by Bernier, Patrik Nemeth scored off a wrist shot from the left circle to tie the score.
After Bobrovsky came under assault and made three key saves, MacKenzie Weegar took a penalty but the Panthers, again, killed it off without much going on.
But the Wings were able to take the lead with 2:33 left in the second after Mathias Brome scored off a nice feed from Dylan Larkin.
Brome walked to the net in front of Wennberg and MacKenzie Weegar and was able to punch in his own rebound as no one had gotten there yet.
”We lose a draw cleanly and it’s in our net,” Quenneville said. “I didn’t like the second goal, that can’t happen. Both nothing plays there and we gave them two goals. To me, that was the difference.”
Florida had a few scoring chances itself following that, including a nice backhanded attempt from Gustav Forsling.
The Panthers got another power play chance at the end of the period and carried possession for 90 seconds before Detroit got a clear to end the period.
Detroit outshot the Panthers 11-8 in the second.
Third period highlights
Florida came into the period showing a nice response to being down a goal but again struggled to get a whole lot going.
Both Verhaeghe and Brett Connolly had their chances but couldn’t get anything through.
Sasha Barkov, who took an uncalled high-stick to the face in the second, got into it with Anthony Mantha near the goal cage.
it started when Mantha was holding Barkov’s stick and when Barkov tried getting free, he hipchecked Larkin and sent him to the locker room.
Florida got another power play chance with Ekblad firing off yet another point-blank shot that Bernier knocked away. The Wings ended killing it off.
Up Next: Dallas Stars at Florida Panthers
When: Monday, 7 p.m.
Where: BB&T Center, Sunrise
Tickets: AVAILABLE HERE