Red Wings goalie on forward's goal in a shootout against Panthers, which ended team's six-game winless skid. Ted Kulfan
Sunrise, Fla. — It’s early in the season, but the Red Wings needed a win badly Saturday and they get one.
Mired in a six-game winless streak, and coach Jeff Blashill’s job security being brought up by Hockey Night in Canada, the heat was beginning to rise.
So Saturday’s 3-2 shootout victory over Florida felt good and was desperately needed.
“The confidence level was starting to go down,” forward Anthony Mantha said. “This one feels amazing.”
Gustav Nyquist scored the lone goal in the shootout, putting an end to the Red Wings' struggles.
Goaltender Jimmy Howard was spectacular, stopping 44 shots and then turning away all three Florida shots in the shootout.
The Red Wings (5-6-1, 11 points) killed 5-of-6 Florida power plays, but largely it was Howard coming through with one big save after another.
“Sometimes teams go through slumps and you have to have someone to step up,” Howard said.
During Saturday’s HNIC's Headlines segment, analyst Elliotte Friedman speculated that should the Red Wings continue to struggle and look for a coaching replacement, they would consider Grand Rapids Griffins coach Todd Nelson or former Arizona coach Dave Tippett.
There is no indication the Red Wings are even near that point, but Saturday’s win certainly will calm down the fire.
“We’ve obviously been in a lot of these spots and haven’t won enough games,” Blashill said. “It felt good to win, we have to find ways to win these games.”
The overtime was one of the more entertaining anyone will see, with up and down action and numerous scoring chances. But Howard and Florida goaltender James Reimer (36 saves) both were outstanding, forcing the shootout.
Andreas Athanasiou (his first of the season) and Nyquist (third) scored for the Red Wings.
Jonathan Huberdeau and Evgeni Dadonov (power play) had goals for the Panthers (4-5-1, 9 points).
Nyquist tied the game 2-2 — his first in six games — at 10:46 of the second period.
Red Wings goalie talks about stepping up with a 44-save performance in team's 3-2 shootout victory, which ended a six-game winless streak. Ted Kulfan
Just moments after Howard made a big save in his end, the Red Wings got the puck down the ice, Nyquist split the Florida defense and put back his rebound past Reimer.
“I had some time to cut to the middle and they were cheating on Hank (Zetterberg),” Nyquist said. “I got a little lucky and the rebound was laying right there.”
Florida had taken the lead in the second period with goals from Huberdeau and Dadonov, both redirects past Howard.
Athanasiou opened the game’s scoring with his first goal in two games since returning to the lineup, with a one-timer from the hashmarks off a feed from Dylan Larkin.
In the end, it was a narrow victory that gives the Red Wings some room to breathe before coming home Tuesday to face a winless Arizona team — before going back on the road for a three-game trip to western Canada.
“We did some good things, and we need to keep winning,” Nyquist said. “Coming home, we don’t have the best record (1-2-1), so we have to take care of that.It’s not as good as it needs to be.
“We can enjoy it for a few hours, but we have a lot of work to do.”