'We lack confidence': Red Wings' woes continue with shutout loss to Panthers
Sunrise, Fla. — This one wasn't much better for the Red Wings.
An evening after being clobbered in Carolina, the Wings had no easier time on Saturday in Florida, where the Panthers rolled over the Wings 4-0.
The disappointing thing, from the Wings’ perspective, was they didn’t put up enough of a battle.
The Panthers had little difficulty earning two points in this game.
“We can’t come out like that, that’s not good enough, not even close,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. ‘We have to be way better than that.”
Between the top two lines — Dylan Larkin centering Tyler Bertuzzi and Darren Helm, and Valtteri Filppula between Andreas Athanasiou and Anthony Mantha — the six players combined for 10 shots on net (Bertuzzi’s three leading the way).
“Some of our skill players didn’t compete hard enough tonight,” Blashill said. “We didn’t have enough, not even close, to our ‘A’ game by a number of our best players.
“Maybe different reasons, execution or compete, whatever it may be. We’re relying on a lot of young guys and a lot of young guys weren’t good enough.”
Jonathan Huberdeau scored two goals, and Brett Connolly and Aleksander Barkov (power play) scored for the Panthers, while goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida’s big and expensive free-agent signing last summer, made 22 saves for his first shutout as a Panther.
It was a methodical, decisive knockout for the Panthers (7-3-4), who outshot the Wings (4-10-1) 41-22 and controlled the game for nearly the entire 60 minutes.
“They skated better, spent a lot of time in our zone and we had a tough time getting out of ours,” Filppula said. “They were able to keep pressure on and they just skated better than us.”
The Wings have now lost 10 of their last 11 — 1-9-1 in that stretch — and are quickly seeing this season dissolve. They've been outscored 46-19 during those 11 games.
“Definitely we do lack confidence as a group,” said goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who stopped 37 shots. “Everyone has to do their own job, and if everyone gives a little bit more we’ll be OK.”
With the Wings struggling the way they’ve been, the last thing they needed was an early deficit.
But that’s exactly what they got when Bertuzzi went to the box for high sticking just 1:02 into the game and Florida capitalized just three seconds after Bertuzzi’s penalty expired with Connolly firing high over Bernier for his fifth goal.
“(We) take a penalty we didn’t need to take, it’s in your net, and you’re on your heels and for a team that’s given up too many goals and not scored too many goals and hasn’t won enough games, that probably plays into it a little bit,” Blashill said. “We have to make sure to come out way stronger.”
The Wings went seven minutes without a shot at one point in the second period, an indication of what kind of evening it was.
Special teams have been a troublesome issue during this losing streak and they were again Saturday. The Wings weren't effective while going 0-for-3 on the power play, while allowing one Florida power-play goal, and another goal three seconds after a Wings penalty expired.
“When you’re giving up tons on the penalty kill that puts a lot of pressure on you, but our power play has to be way better,” Blashill said. “Ultimately we have a whole bunch of young guys in important spots and they better get the job done and they didn’t get the job done, haven’t got the job done.
“Our power play hasn’t been good enough.”
Defenseman Trevor Daley didn’t finish the game, only played 13 minutes, 46 seconds, and Blashill wasn’t sure about Daley’s availability for Monday’s game against Nashville.
Defensemen Joe Hicketts (healthy scratch) and Mike Green (illness) were held out, in favor of Alex Biega and Dennis Cholowski.