Florida Panthers’ high-octane offense comes up big again in blowout win over Red Wings

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Jordan McPherson
·5 min read
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They were coming off arguably their two biggest wins of the year and were playing against the last-place team in their division. Theoretically, there was a chance for the Florida Panthers to have a hangover as they started their back-to-back against the Detroit Red Wings on Friday.

In reality, that was far from the case.

The Panthers scored four goals in a nine-minute stretch midway through the first period and never looked back in a 7-2 win over the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. Florida (11-2-2) is now a perfect 3-0-0 on this road trip, which included wins over the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes and ends with the second game against Detroit at 5 p.m. Saturday. The Panthers have now outscored their opponents 17-9 on this road trip and, with 24 points through 15 games, hold onto their spot atop the Central Division.

“We’re obviously a confident group right now,” forward Anthony Duclair said. “We just want to keep things rolling.”

Detroit fell to 4-12-3.

Juho Lammikko, MacKenzie Weegar, Patric Hornqvist and Aleksander Barkov scored the quartet of opening-period goals for Florida.

Aaron Ekblad added a goal in the final seconds of the second period. Hornqvist scored a second time with a third-period power-play goal and Duclair added a tally of his own in the final period. Keith Yandle recorded three assists on the night. Barkov had three points (one goal, two assists). Jonathan Huberdeau and Carter Verhaeghe each had two assists. Weegar and Duclair each had two points as well (one goal, one assist).

The four first-period goals tied a franchise record, last done on Nov. 19, 2018, in an eventual win over the Ottawa Senators.

“Really good start,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. “A lot of speed. We did some good things with the puck, made some nice plays. Everybody seemed to be moving.”

It was enough to chase Detroit starting goaltender Thomas Greiss after the first period — a sigh of relief for the Panthers considering Greiss’ track record of success against the Panthers.

Heading into Friday, Greiss had a career .934 save percentage and a 10-6-2 record in 18 games against Florida (12 regular season, six playoffs). He had given up four or more goals just twice.

On Friday, the Panthers battered him for four goals on 13 shots in the first 20 minutes.

Lammikko got the scoring started a little more than six minutes into regulation. He took a pass from Brett Connolly in front of the net and fired a wrist shot through a pair of Red Wings defenders and into the net. It was Lammikko’s second consecutive game with a goal. Yandle was credited the secondary assist.

Weegar doubled the Panthers’ score less than two minutes later with his first goal of the season, taking a feed from Huberdeau and sending a one-timer from the left circle past Greiss.

Hornqvist made it 3-0 at the 12:45 mark, tapping in a shot from Yandle in front of the net.

The Red Wings broke up the shutout with a Bobby Ryan goal at 14:06, but Barkov put Florida back up by three goals 69 seconds later when he took the rebound from a Verhaeghe shot and pushed the puck past Greiss, who was on his back after stopping Verhaeghe’s attempt.

Ten Panthers players were on the scoresheet with either a goal or assist in the first period.

“We’ve got a lot of options coming out of the neutral zone,” Weegar said on the Fox Sports Florida broadcast during the first intermission. “We’re just picking up right where we left off. It’s great to watch. It’s fun here.”

Jonathan Bernier took over in net for Detroit over the final two periods, stopping 23 of 26 shots that came his way. The three goals he gave up over the final 40 minutes: An Ekblad one-timer from the left circle with 21 seconds remaining in the second period, a tap-in from Hornqvist in front of the net on the power play 5:50 into the third period and a Duclair wrist shot in front of the net off a pass from Barkov.

Chris Driedger improved to 6-1-1 on the season after stopping 30 of 32 shots. Driedger has started all three games of this road trip and has now allowed two goals or fewer in five of his eight starts.

Driedger’s highlight save of the night: A diving slide to his right midway through the second period, using his stick to stop Darren Helm’s wrist shot on a rebound with a mostly open net.

“Sometimes you just get breaks,” Driedger said of the play. “I was down and out and figured I’d just throw something at it and got lucky.”

Friday was a needed break from the norm against Detroit. The Panthers’ first four games against the Red Wings this season included three one-goal wins (including one in overtime) and a 4-1 regulation loss at home.

“The games have all been close, could have gone either way,” Quenneville said following Florida’s practice Thursday in Detroit. “They are competitive … you have to fight for everything you get. That is the kind of game we expect. Timely goals are going to be important. You have to be ready for everything. Let’s be focused on doing the right things.”

They did the right things on Friday.

“We feel good about ourselves,” Hornqvist said, “but we can’t just sit back now because we’ve been winning lately here. We just have to keep working and keep doing the right things. You see what that does to our team. When we’re playing the right way, we’re as good as anyone. That’s what we’re showing right now.”

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
Nashville
-154-2.5O 6
Detroit
+130+2.5U 6