Red Wings work through grief to defeat Panthers, 2-1
Detroit — A day after a terrible defeat and the sadness about a death of a beloved friend, the Red Wings found reason Saturday to smile.
Patrick Nemeth and Mathias Brome scored their first goals of the season in the second period, leading the Wings to a 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers.
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier stopped 38 shots, and the Wings played a fine defensive game, as they honored the memory of popular and beloved team masseur Sergei Tchekmarev, 65, who died Friday.
"Very difficult 24 hours," forward Dylan Larkin said. "First it was a tough night on the ice, which happens in this league. More importantly, we lost a friend, someone who really cared so much about everyone he met who was kind to him, he gave it back 1,000 times more."
It wasn't easy for the Wings to be at the rink Saturday, but they definitely showed some character.
"Last night wasn't the way we wanted to play," Larkin said. "We were a step late all over the ice and we knew that, we didn't have to talk about it much. But I'm very proud of our guys, man to man, we all stepped up and played a way better game tonight.
"We care. The guys in there, we care. We care about each other and care about being Detroit Red Wings. We care about playing the right way."
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The Wings (5-11-3) ended a three-game winless streak. They also ended a six-game home losing streak to Florida.
Alexander Wennberg (power play) scored for the Panthers (11-3-2).
Brome broke a 1-1 tie at 17:27 of the second period with his first career NHL goal.
Dylan Larkin took a shot skating through the slot, and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky left a rebound right near the post for Brome, who batted the puck past Bobrovsky.
BOX SCORE: Red Wings 2, Panthers 1
"You don't remember so much when you do that," Brome said of getting on the scoresheet. "It's so much off your shoulders and it's a amazing feeling to score a goal and to do that today and win the game."
Nemeth opened the scoring for the Wings, tying the score at 10:09 of the second period.
Luke Glendening won the faceoff, and got the puck to Christian Djoos at the point. Djoos found Nemeth on the opposite side, and Nemeth drifted down to the dot and whistled a blast that Bobrovsky barely reacted on.
Bernier was the key, making numerous key stops, but it was an impressive team effort that secured a much-needed victory.
"It was a good bounce back for us," coach Jeff Blashill said. "In terms of the compete, and work, and obviously they're a good hockey team and they had a number of chances where Bernier was real good. We weren't great in the first but we started to push in the second (period) and found a way to win a game."