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The Lyon King Did All He Could. Florida Panthers Found a Win

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Lyon detroit
A ‘Lyon King’ placard, which was handed out during the Florida Panthers’ playoff run last season, is still on display at Amerant Bank Arena where Alex Lyon played for the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday afternoon. // Photo @GeorgeRichards

SUNRISE — When the Florida Panthers and Detroit Red Wings skated onto the ice for pregame warmups Saturday, Sergei Bobrovsky made a point to come over to former partner Alex Lyon, giving him a friendly ‘good luck’ tap on the pads.

That was the extent of the day’s hospitality.

Lyon knows desperation hockey very well.

Last season, he stepped up and backstopped the Panthers to an unlikely string of six straight victories which helped put them into the playoffs.

Lyon, filling in for Bobrovsky, ran off six straight wins before losing to Toronto in overtime. Pittsburgh lost to Chicago the next day, and, the rest was history.

He hopes to help carry the Red Wings into the playoffs as well.

As a perennial backup, Lyon’s performance with the Panthers last season earned him a one-way, multi-year contract with Detroit.

At 31, Lyon is earning the highest base salary of his career and, for the first time, has a guaranteed big-league salary.

Lyon was signed for insurance as Detroit’s No. 3 behind Ville Husso and James Reimer.

Injuries to Husso, and Lyon’s superior early season play, thrust him into the top spot.

Lyon has the most starts of the three Detroit goalies, starting 31 of 39 since the Christmas break.

Despite these superlatives, he came to Sunrise on Saturday as the opposition.

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Both Lyon and the Red Wings were desperately fighting for a win.

The last time the Wings visited Florida back in January, Lyon backstopped his team to a 3-2 overtime victory with 32 saves.

It snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Panthers.

On Saturday, Lyon helped Detroit pick up a point in the standings as the Wings fight for a playoff spot.

Detroit comes into Sunday two points back of Philadelphia for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The 3-2 shootout loss Saturday was Lyon’s second consecutive loss after regulation. He now has a 10-game (0-8-2) losing streak.

Despite that, Lyon was fantastic on Saturday and, it certainly looked like he would pull out another win for the Wings in Sunrise.

Only Sasha Barkov scored twice in the third to erase Florida’s deficit.

Down 2-1, captain Dylan Larkin scored on a 4-on-3 power play which ended up forcing overtime.

Lyon ended his 65-minutes with 37 saves. Sam Reinhart scored on the first shootout shot and that turned out to be the difference.

Lyon, who is one of the most quotable players in the league, was not made available afterward.

His coach and teammates were more than happy to talk about his superior play.

Derek Lalonde said “Alex kept us in there, again.”

The Wings coach considered the two goals allowed  “a little unlucky. Both goals kind of ping-ponged through two or three different sticks.”

David Perron, who assisted on the opening goal, said, “Alex was awesome. Unbelievable game by him.”

Detroit was an early season surprise, winning six of its first seven games.

The Red Wings have cooled down considerably, and recently suffered a seven-game losing streak.

Their performances have been erratic, and they also ran into some tough luck and personnel losses due to the flu bug.

Lyon, after a fast start once he broke into the lineup, has played well of late but has been at the short end of his past ten starts.

The odds are against the Wings, just like they were against the Panthers last year, with only eight games remaining.

Yet, as Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

Alex Lyon, as much as anyone in the NHL, knows that to be true.

For the most in-depth coverage of the Florida Panthers:

ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS @ TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

  • When: Monday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports SUN/ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • This Season (Tied 1-1) — At Florida: Panthers 3, Leafs 1 (Oct. 19); April 16. At Toronto: Leafs 2, Panthers 1 (Nov. 28); Monday.
  • Last Season: Toronto won Regular Season Series 3-1; Florida won Eastern Conference Semifinals 4-1
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Toronto leads 49-37-7, 7 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Tuesday at Montreal, 7 p.m.

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