Misfiring Red Wings trudge home 0-2

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Sunshine, Fla. — Florida is usually a nice place to visit, but this certainly wasn’t an enjoyable trip for the Red Wings.

They went winless in two season-opening games, losing 4-1 Saturday to the Florida Panthers to end the disappointing journey.

BOX SCORE: Panthers 4, Red Wings 1

The Panthers outshot the Red Wings 38-22, a fairly indicative measure of how this game went. Florida spent the majority of time in Detroit’s zone, while the Red Wings spent precious little time in the opposing zone.

“We’re not really connected right now,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “We should be able to create more than we have been in these two games. Can’t blame it on chemistry. We’re supposed to be better hockey players than that and should be able to create more.”

The Red Wings return for the final regular-season opener at Joe Louis Arena Monday against Ottawa, hoping that will reverse this start.

Darren Helm scored for the Red Wings, his line with Gustav Nyquist and Thomas Vanek the only effective line for most of the evening.

“We need more than that top to bottom,” coach Jeff Blashill said.  “It starts with getting out our zone and it puts the onus as a team to do a better job of getting out of our zone.

“We weren’t quick enough on pucks most of the first and second (periods). We have to be better than that.”

Goaltender Petr Mrazek stopped 34 shots, keeping the Red Wings close throughout the evening.

Vincent Trocheck, Colton Sceviour, Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Marchessault (empty net) scored for the Panthers, who got 21 saves from Roberto Luongo.

Barkov made it 3-1 at 17:38 seconds of the third period, cementing the victory.

Jaromir Jagr stripped the puck from Danny DeKeyser and Mike Green in the corner and centered the puck to Barkov alone in front of goalie Petr Mrazek.
Marchessault scored an empty-net goal at 18:37, finishing it off.

“These are two real good teams, teams that a lot of people have picked to be in the playoffs,” said Justin Abdelkader of the two losses. “They (the Panthers) were coming with a lot of speed. We have to make sure we’re tighter through the neutral zone, and when we get into the zone we have to outwork them with a little more grind time and not so much one and done.

“We have to value the puck when we have it.”

Helm cut the lead to 2-1 late in the first period.

Vanek forced defenseman Jason Demers into a turnover, Nyquist gathered the puck and centered to Helm, who snapped a one-timer past Luongo at 13:07.

The Red Wings did little else in the second period as the Panthers held the visitors to four shots. The Wings put very little pressure on Luongo overall.

“It was a lot closer (game), Gerard Gallant, Panthers coach said. “Their goalie played real well. It shouldn’t have been that close because he made some big saves. But our team played a real good game tonight, we had a lot of good possession.”

Trocheck opened the scoring just 1:10 into the game.

Trocheck attempted the wraparound and bounced the puck off Dylan Larkin’s skate past Mrazek, putting the Red Wings in an early deficit.

After the Red Wings couldn’t convert a power play, the Panthers made it 2-0 at 9:54.

Sceviour, who now has three career goals against the Red Wings in five games, converted off a 2-on-1 rush.

“We got on our heels early and gave up those two goals,” Blashill said. “We can’t keep giving up free opportunities like that. It’s nonsensical. That put us on our heels.”