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'We overcomplicated it': Red Wings' lackluster power play leads to 4-1 loss to Panthers

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Two tough opponents on consecutive nights and the Red Wings certainly didn't embarrass themselves.

But they still couldn't earn victories.

Twenty-four hours after losing to Pittsburgh in overtime, the Red Wings dropped a 4-1 decision Saturday against Florida in a rare back-to-back set at Little Caesars Arena.

The difference in this game? The Red Wings were 0-for-7 on the power play, while Florida was able to convert on its sixth attempt, Aleksander Barkov's 15th goal, at 13 minutes, 5 seconds of the third period, giving the Panthers a 3-1 lead.

BOX SCORE: Panthers 4, Red Wings 1

Denis Malgin added an empty-net goal at 18:12 to conclude the scoring.

“In the end, they scored a power-play goal and we had seven chances and we didn’t,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We overcomplicated it. We don’t have to overcomplicate it. We have to take what is given and make those plays.”

Goaltender Jimmy Howard earned another start after playing well against Pittsburgh, and was again one of the Wings' best players, stopping 34 shots.

But Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who has been having a rocky first season with the Panthers after signing a big free-agent contract, was just a bit better while making 27 saves.

Still, Howard’s play over the last 48 hours was a pleasant, and needed, takeaway in what’s been a difficult season for him personally.

“Howie was outstanding again, he gave us a chance,” forward Luke Glendening said. “Howie has been great these last two games here. I feel bad we weren’t able to pull one out for him. He’s been outstanding.”

Howard has focused on not overthinking on the ice and it appeared to work in these two games.

“After the (New York) Islanders’ game (Tuesday, an 8-2 loss), how much worse is it going to get?” Howard said. “You just go out there and play. I’m just playing free and not thinking out there.”

Dylan Larkin scored the lone Wings’ goal, his 12th of the season and 100th of his career.

Larkin came out of the penalty box and received an outlet pass from Darren Helm for a breakaway at 5:15 of the second period, cutting the Florida lead to 2-1.

“It’s a dream to score a goal in the NHL,” Larkin said. “I’m in a good spot here and fortunate to be playing with good players in my career and hopefully there’s a lot more.”

Florida’s Evgenii Dadonov and Mark Pysyk scored 1:25 apart late in the first period.

Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau found Dadonov alone down the wing, made a perfect stretch pass, and Dadonov put his 21st goal past Howard at 17:15.

As has been a Wings’ characteristic this season, they allowed another goal shortly after.

Aaron Ekblad worked the puck in from the point and centered a pass to Pysyk near the post. Pysyk put in his fourth goal on the rebound attempt, at 18:40.

Again, the Wings had opportunities to tie the game with all the power-play attempts, but failed to convert.

“It’s frustrating,” Larkin said. “We had that many tries and we don’t come up with one. We’re almost trying too hard, trying to switch things up when it’s good to just keep it simple.”

The Wings (12-33-4) have lost six of their last eight (2-5-1) and head to Colorado (Monday) and Minnesota (Wednesday) before going on their All-Star and bye break.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan