SUNRISE – The Panthers had to play an “almost perfect game” Friday evening to beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings.
The good news is they did that in bursts, including the entire second period. The bad news is they couldn’t continue that play into the final 20 minutes of the game.
Tied at two going into the third period, the Panthers allowed the NHL’s top power-play unit on the ice at 4:24 of the third period and they paid dearly for it when Johan Franzen scored to give the Red Wings a 3-2 victory over the Panthers at BankAtlantic Center.
Franzen, standing in front of the Panthers’ goal, tipped a Niklas Kronwall shot from the point past goalie Tomas Vokoun for the winning score to break the Panthers’ two-game winning streak.
“The difference was one power play goal,” said Stephen Weiss who scored for the Panthers along with Richard Zednik. “It’s just a bounce here or there. If we get the first one in the third (period) maybe it’s a different story.”
With defenseman Jassen Cullimore in the penalty box for holding, the Red Wings scored just 16 seconds into the man advantage. They held the Panthers to six, third period shots and didn’t allow the Panthers to have a sixth attacker on the ice until the final 30 seconds of the game.
“You can never underestimate them, and when you play against them you realize why,” said Gregory Campbell of the Red Wings. “They work so hard and they’re so good at the little things.”
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was equally complimentary of the Panthers.
"They've got a lot of pieces here," said Babcock. "Bouwmeester skates just like (Scott) Niedermayer. Both goaltenders are solid. Down the middle, Booth, Weiss... it's a pretty nice set up there. The Campbell kid looks like he's going to provide energy. I think Ballard is a real good player.
"I think the future here is going to be real good."
Tonight’s Mayors Jewelers Three Star Selections of the Game are:
1st: Marian Hossa 2nd: Richard Zednik 3rd: Johan Franzen
Mayors is the Official Jeweler of the Florida Panthers, please visit www.mayors.com or your local South Florida Mayors location.
Coming off a 4-3 victory Thursday evening in Tampa, the Red Wings took control of the second half of the first period by going into the Panthers’ end in waves. It paid off for them at 17:07 when Marian Hossa slid the puck toward starting Panther goalie Craig Anderson from behind the goal line in the left corner. The puck snuck past Anderson for a 1-0 Red Wing lead.
The Red Wings followed up just 1:37 into the second period when Hossa scored his second goal of the game (10th of the season) on a four-on-two break to make it 2-0.
That’s when DeBoer changed goalies and went with Vokoun, who did not practice Thursday due to back spasms and a nagging hip injury.
“I think, obviously, we needed a spark,” DeBoer said. “I also know against a team like Detroit, we have to play an almost perfect game. We did some good things. We stayed out of the (penalty) box. I thought we had a real good second period, changed the momentum, got back going again. But it’s tough to recover from that first goal. That’s a tough one to give up against a team like that.”
The change in goal seemed to snap the Panthers to life.
They buzzed the Red Wings’ zone and, at 6:02 of the second, the Panthers were rewarded when Richard Zednik backhanded a rebound past Red Wings’ goalie Ty Conklin after Ville Peltonen fanned while trying to bat the puck out of the air.
Less than six minutes later, Zednik was at it again, this time back-handing a pass from the Red Wings’ right corner to Stephen Weiss, who snapped a wrist shot through traffic from the slot past Conklin to tie the game at two.
But after allowing the power-play goal to Franzen, the Panthers couldn’t get one of their own on two, third period power plays attempts.
The Panthers have now come up a goal short against the defending Stanley Cup champions and have beaten San Jose and Anaheim.
“We can compete against any team in the league,” Campbell said. “One power play, one mistake, and they capitalize on it, and that’s what makes them a good team and that’s why they win.”
The Panthers must now prepare for a three-game road trip that begins Tuesday in Tampa before moving Thursday to New Jersey and Friday to Boston.
“We need wins right now,” said defensemen Keith Ballard. “We got to get back Tuesday and get one in Tampa.”
Wade Belak and Noah Welch were the Panthers’ healthy scratches… Ty Conklin is now 6-0 in seven career games against the Panthers… The Panthers will practice Sunday at IncredibleIce in Coral Springs at 11 a.m.
1 - 0 DET
2 - 0 DET
2 - 1 DET
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 DET