'We battled': Red Wings finally break into win column
Sunrise, Fla. — No making history of the bad kind for these Red Wings.
The seven-game losing streak to begin the regular season is over, thanks to a 4-3 overtime victory over Florida on Saturday night.
Gustav Nyquist scored at 3 minutes, 44 seconds of overtime on a breakaway after both teams traded golden scoring opportunities.
“I’m aware it’s overtime,” Nyquist said of whether he was aware the fate of the losing streak was on his stick. “But it felt good to score there, for sure. To get that first one out of the way, hopefully we can build off this one.”
Florida's Mike Hoffman tied it at 3 at 18:44 of the third period with a fluttering shot from the dot that handcuffed goaltender Jimmy Howard.
But instead of sagging, which the Wings have done a lot of these opening few weeks, they stayed poised and battled.
Just as they did after Florida took a 2-0 lead after one period.
“The Red Wings a week ago would have drooped on the bench and the energy on the bench would have been terrible,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “But it wasn’t like that. We battled, and the power play came up huge.”
Three uninterrupted goals in the second period erased a 2-0 Panthers lead, then outstanding penalty killing and the goaltending of Howard in the final two periods guided the Wings into the win column.
The Wings (1-5-2, four points) killed five Florida penalties, a key part of this victory — three in the second period and two in the crucial third period.
“Our penalty kill and power play ended up winning us the game,” said coach Jeff Blashill, who also noted his team’s perseverance. “We played, we forced ourselves back into the game instead of just playing hockey. We just kept playing good hockey, kept playing the right way.”
Florida's Aleksander Barkov had a penalty-shot attempt early in the third period with the Wings holding a 3-2 lead, but the puck rolled off his stick and he fanned on the shot.
The franchise record is a 10-game losing streak to begin a season — and the NHL record is 11. But that isn’t of concern anymore to the Wings.
“You have to keep your head high and try to find positives,” Nyquist said. “We’ve been able to find positives from games. We’ve watched clips where we’re doing the right things. We just have to keep doing those things.”
Dennis Cholowski and Thomas Vanek scored power-play goals 18 seconds apart in the second period, and Larkin added a goal at the 7:50 mark to give the Wings a 3-2 lead.
The Wings killed three consecutive Florida power plays the latter half of the second period to preserve the lead.
Keith Yandle and Nick Bjugstad had first-period goals for the Panthers (1-2-3, five points).
But even after falling behind two goals, the Wings felt they had played well enough to be in the game.
“We were generating chances in the first period and we felt if we continue to do that, we figured we were going to get a couple,” said Howard, who made 34 saves. “I still felt it was going our night (after Florida tied the game late). We did a lot of great things, especially on the penalty kill. It stepped up huge for us.
“We played well and we deserved to win.”