Red Wings rue missed chances in 'frustrating' 2-1 loss to Panthers

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The scoring chances were there, some of them quite good for the Red Wings.

But frustration continued to build, as it has for most of this month, as the Wings were foiled by goaltender Roberto Luongo and the Florida Panthers all Saturday afternoon, in a 2-1 loss at Little Caesars Arena.

The Wings fell behind early, and never did get entirely back in the game, while losing a game to a division rival directly behind them.

BOX SCORE: Panthers 2, Red Wings 1

Thomas Vanek scored for the Wings, who were 0-for-4 on the power play, including two opportunities in the third period.

“Another frustrating loss,” said Vanek, whose goal was only his fifth this seaosn. “We need to score, I need to score more, it’s no secret about that. Sometimes it takes a little while for us to get going, and once we get going, we get those chances, but it takes 10 or 12 scoring chances  to get something.

“We get two power plays in the third and got some good looks, but good looks aren’t good enough when you’re losing games.”

The Wings fell to 15-17-5 but are only 3-6-2 over their last 11 games, as the month of December isn’t proving to be very festive.

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Florida (14-14-6) is only one point behind the Wings, and have played three less games.

The Wings, already decimated with injuries, learned before the game they’d be without forward Andreas Athanasiou (upper body), who was hurt in Thursday’s game in Carolina. 

Athanasiou isn’t likely to play Sunday in Toronto.

Mike Hoffman (power play) and Evgenii Dadonov had first-period Panthers goals, while Luongo, still going strong at age 39, stopped 33 shots.

“He’s had an unbelievable career,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “He can still play at the top level, which is extremely impressive. He made some good saves for them.

“We did have some chances where he didn’t really see the puck, but he was still able to come up with the save, especially in the third. We might have made it a bit easy for him before that, but overall, in the third, we had some good looks. We definitely would like to get one on the power play.”

Vanek slid the puck around Luongo on a wraparound at the 10-minute mark of the second period, his fifth goal, cutting Florida’s lead to 2-1.

In the third, the Wings had some good looks against Luongo, but the veteran was able to knock everything away.

“We had enough opportunities in the game, we have to score,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “The power play, overall in the game, three of the four, were good. The third one was no good, the first of the third period. That was no good at all. But three of them were good, we had good looks and chances, but we didn’t score.”

Hoffman scored nine seconds into a power play (3:09), coming in from the point and one-timing a pass from Jonathan Huberdeau from near the dot, Hoffman’s 16th goal.

Dadonov extended the lead to 2-0 at 17:21 with his 17th goal. Huberdeau again was the setup man, finding Dadonov trailing on a Panthers’ rush, and Dadonov slipping the puck between goaltender Jimmy Howard and the post.

Twitter: @tkulfan