Detroit — The Red Wings produced lots of shots, plenty of scoring chances, got good goaltending, played decent team defense, generally took care of the puck and demonstrated ample moxie.
And they lost again.
In a game they could have wrapped-up well before overtime, the Red Wings lost a fifth straight that went to the extra frame on Monday, this time 2-1 to the Florida Panthers, who came to town a point behind the Red Wings in the Atlantic Division and left tied.
The Wings are now 1-5 in the last six.
“I’m still wondering how we lost that game,” said Luke Witkowski, who fought the leading pugilist in the NHL, Micheal Haley, twice; two of the three fights in the contest.
“I don’t know how many grade-A scoring chances we had.”
Witkowski credited Panthers goalie James Reimer with a fine effort, but the Wings need to get some “finish” in their game before the season goes for naught in advance of the new year.
“It’s frustrating,” Witkowski said.
Luke Glendening punished Florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad in the third tilt of the evening, landing three consecutive rights and other punches before knocking Ekblad to the ice.
Asked about that effort and a lot of good play by the Wings in general, Glendening emphasized that it simply is not sufficient in the NHL.
“It’s a points-based league,” Glendening said. “If you’re not winning, you’re doing something wrong.
“We’re doing some things right, but we’re not winning. We have to find ways to do that.”
Mike Matheson, a Panthers defenseman, scored his first goal of the season in 28 games played at 2:02 of the overtime.
Jimmy Howard, down and out after making a tremendous pad save on one shot and managing to save a second by scrambling into position after the rebound, could not stop a third shot, observing the proceedings from the seat of his pants in the crease.
For the second consecutive game, Howard needed more help.
It never arrived on the winner.
Outshooting the Panthers 35-29, the Wings had many scoring chances throughout the game and could convert only one.
Henrik Zetterberg scored his fifth of the season, and his first after a 22-game drought, with 1:33 left in the first period.
For yet another game, the Red Wings played better than the score indicated. They had multiple chances to build a two-, three- and even four-goal lead. From about the 13-minute mark of the first period until 8:18 of the third period, the Wings outshot the Panthers 23-9.
Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Anthony Mantha, Dylan Larkin and others had clear scoring chances and failed to tally.
The Red Wings, challenged offensively for at least couple of seasons, lacked “finish” once again.
Asked after the game if the roster needs more scoring talent, Jeff Blashill argued against it.
“Well, I think if we stay with the process, with this, we have enough natural goal-scorers. I do,” Blashill said.
“We have to bear down and keep staying with it.”
Leading 1-0 halfway through the third period, the Wings were again victimized by a simple mistake. Nick Jensen’s delay-of-game penalty at 8:22 put the Panthers on a power play and their stars capitalized.
After the Wings spent far too long in their own zone killing the penalty, Dylan Larkin finally got hold of the puck and skated it to within a couple of feet of the blue line before two Panthers approached him, deterred him and swiped the puck.
Within moments three talented Panthers, Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck, combined on Trocheck’s 13th goal of the season at 10:11.
Regulation time ended 1-1, with the Red Wings outshooting the Panthers 28-14 for about the last 47 minutes.
Portions of the game were like NHL games of a different era: Danger seemed to lurk everywhere, and a penchant for violence hung in the air.
The Red Wings and Panthers collected six fighting majors in the first two periods, with the heavyweights Witkowski and Haley going at it twice and Glendening and Windsonr-native Ekblad once.
Witkowski, returning from a 10-game suspension, kept the fights with Haley close.
His fights were the eighth and ninth fighting majors for Haley this season, and he is making a career of fisticuffs, an unusual role in the sport in recent seasons in which fighting is generally in decline.
The Red Wings were skated hard by the Panthers for much of the first as Florida built a 12-6 advantage in shots on goal two-thirds of the way through the period.
Panthers’ forwards descended upon a defenseless Howard at times, and controlled the puck directly in front of him in the crease without a lot of opposition.
But the Wings got some offense going, and outshot the Panthers 5-0 late in the period.
The offensive produced a goal by Zetterberg, at 18:27.
The Red Wings outshot the Panthers 12-6 in the second period, picking up the pace and possession of the puck as the period went on, and beginning to dominate the game geographically.
Hotly contested, the period featured lots of combativeness in scrums and after whistles, and linesmen frequently intervening.
Despite all the action, the Wings could not add to Zetterberg’s goal.
“In the end, if you look at the game, the real story was we had lots of chances and we couldn’t score,” Blashill said.
“I don’t know, for two games in a row, that’s kind of been the story for me.”