PREVIEW: Florida Panthers aim for another goal-fest vs. Red Wings

By Field Level Media
Feb 19, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Florida Panthers right wing Patric Hornqvist (70) celebrates his goal during the first period against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest issue that the Florida Panthers might have on Saturday is fighting overconfidence.

The Panthers overwhelmed the Red Wings 7-2 on Friday night, and the teams will face each other once again Saturday afternoon in Detroit.

“It’s a fresh game, it’s a fresh opportunity,” Florida coach Joel Quenneville said of his message to his team. “The slate’s clean, and let’s be motivated to be the best we can.”

The Panthers were sharp from the start on Friday, racing to a 4-1 lead in the first period.

“Really good speed, a lot of speed,” Quenneville said. “We did some really good things with the puck, made some nice plays. Everybody seemed to be moving well. …

“You score early like that and you get momentum right off the bat. That’s what you look for on the road.”

Read More: RECAP: Four-goal first period lifts Panthers past Red Wings

Patric Hornqvist led the Florida offense with two goals. Aleksander Barkov collected a goal and two assists, and Anthony Duclair had a goal and an assist.

The Panthers’ defensemen also made offensive contributions. Keith Yandle had three assists, MacKenzie Weegar added a goal and an assist and Aaron Ekblad also scored. Weegar’s tally was his first of the season.

“It was a good night offensively,” Quenneville said. “I liked our balance. I thought all the lines were effective. Everybody was doing what we’re looking to do both ways with the puck. Our penalty killing was good, the power play was effective, so we’re happy with our game. (Saturday) is a different challenge.”

Hornqvist now leads the team with eight goals, but four others have tallied at least five times for a club that has lost in regulation just twice in its first 15 games.

Chris Driedger was the winning goaltender, making 30 saves, but Sergei Bobrovsky likely will mind the net Saturday.

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Florida has won four of the five meetings with Detroit this season and Bobrovsky is 2-0-0 against the Red Wings. The Panthers have won six straight in Detroit, with the Red Wings’ last home victory over the Panthers coming on Jan. 5, 2018.

Detroit has lost its last three games overall (0-2-1), and the margin of defeat Friday was its largest this season.

“It was lost battles all over the ice,” Red Wings center Frans Nielsen said. “We were getting beat up the ice, we were getting beat in the corners. They were just beating us to the net. It wasn’t as much the system or that we were out of position. We were just getting beat to the net and lost those one-on-one battles all over the ice. When it happens, it looks like you’re out of position, but basically we got outworked.”

Bobby Ryan and Valtteri Filppula scored the Red Wings’ goals on Friday and Robby Fabbri assisted on both.

Detroit’s power play unit came up empty for the 11th consecutive game, and the Red Wings have failed on their past 34 man-advantages.

Team captain and first-line center Dylan Larkin hasn’t scored in nine games this month. Another top offensive threat, Anthony Mantha, has tallied just once in the past seven games.

First-line forward Tyler Bertuzzi will miss his 11th consecutive game Saturday due to an upper-body injury.

Jonathan Bernier will likely start in net for Detroit. He played the last two periods Friday, stopping 23 of 26 shots, after Thomas Greiss was pulled. Greiss allowed four goals on 13 shots.

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–Field Level Media