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PREVIEW: Slumping Detroit Red Wings visit sizzling Florida Panthers

Jan 31, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Florida Panthers center Carter Verhaeghe (23) skates in front of Detroit Red Wings goaltender Thomas Greiss (29) after scoring a goal during the third period at Little Caesars Arena. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Red Wings haven’t won a game since Jan. 19.

Meanwhile, the Florida Panthers haven’t lost a game in regulation since Aug. 7, 2020.

“It’s kind of nice,” Panthers winger Carter Verhaeghe said of Florida’s 6-0-2 start. “This whole team, we’re clicking.”

On Sunday afternoon — in a Super Bowl appetizer of sorts — the Red Wings will visit the Panthers in Sunrise, Fla.

Detroit is trying to break an eight-game losing streak (0-6-2) that includes two defeats to the Panthers: 3-2 in overtime on Jan. 30 and 3-2 in regulation on Jan. 31.

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Anthony Mantha, who is tied for second on the Wings with seven points this season, scored a goal in each of those games. Goalie Thomas Greiss, who is 0-7-2 this season, took the loss in both games.

Greiss had much better results the past five years playing behind a tight New York Islanders defense, sporting a 101-60-17 record with a .915 save percentage and a 2.70 goals-against average before joining Detroit.

But Greiss, 35, hasn’t had much support on a Detroit team that is rebuilding and facing what looks like its fifth straight season without a trip to the playoffs.

While nothing seems to be going right for the Wings, quite the opposite is true for the Panthers.

Florida’s top line of center Aleksander Barkov and wingers Verhaeghe and Anthony Duclair have gotten off to a fast start. Barkov and Verhaeghe each had one goal and one assist in a 2-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Friday night.

The speedy Duclair — new to the team this year along with Verhaeghe — has no goals but is third on the Panthers with six assists.

“We’re working hard,” Verhaeghe said. “(Barkov) is a great player. We click well.”

The Panthers, who are injury free, also have a solid goaltending duo of Chris Driedger and Sergei Bobrovsky, each of whom has a 3-0-1 record. Driedger (.942 save percentage, 1.72 GAA) got the start on Friday.

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“He was a rock,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said of Driedger. “He takes up a lot of net. He’s very patient and poised, and rebounds seem to stick to him.”

Bobrovsky (.881 save percentage, 3.57 GAA) will likely get the start on Sunday.

Detroit could again go with Greiss (.892 save percentage, 3.27 GAA). Jonathan Bernier, who had been the backup, is out due to an upper-body injury. That leaves Calvin Pickard — who has yet to start a game this season — as the option to Greiss. Pickard, 28, has 88 career NHL starts.

The real problem for Detroit is its offense, which is last in the league with 1.8 goals per game. Worse yet, winger Tyler Bertuzzi, who leads Detroit with five goals, is out due to an upper-body injury. Center Dylan Larkin tops the Wings with nine points, including four goals.

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Jonathan Huberdeau, largely on the strength of a five-point game and his first career hat trick against Nashville on Thursday, leads Florida with 12 points. Barkov (11 points) and Verhaeghe (nine points) are next on the team.

–Field Level Media