Florida Panthers vs. Detroit Red Wings Game Recap | 03/30/2024

Sam Reinhart scores in the shootout to give Florida the win. Bruce Bennett, Getty Images

Florida closed out the month of March with their second match against Detroit, this time on home ice. The Panthers had a rocky first period, which allowed the Red Wings to walk away with a 1-0 lead heading into the second period. The Cats upped their level of play in the second period and into the third and were able to generate more scoring chances but the puck bounces just weren’t going their way Saturday afternoon. Compounding the problem of getting an offensive rhythm were all the penalties that got called against the Cats. However, a spark from team captain Aleksander Barkov jump-started the offense and allowed them to tie the game in the third period to force overtime, which eventually ended in a shootout. The Panthers were able to end March with a win in what was otherwise a tough month for them that saw just as many losses as wins.

Strong Defensive Showing:

There was no lack of time for the Penalty Kill in this match. Detroit got six power players, and the PK killed off 4 of the 6. While there have been some games where the Cats have been able to kill off that many, that wasn’t the case against the Red Wings. But the PK did its job when the game was on the line during OT, and Detroit got yet another power play. However, the defense overall was good for the Panthers. They didn’t allow a single even-strength goal and did a good job of breaking up plays to limit what Detroit could do. Ekblad being back in the lineup has also steadied things out defensively. He’s a big presence for the Panthers and played just under 22 minutes, acquiring an assist and three hits, and was back on the first PK Unit. Forsling-Ekblad has been the Panthers’ best defensive pairing all season so to have that back has made a noticeable improvement in what’s been a sloppy stint of play the last two weeks. While I firmly believe that an entire team’s ability to win shouldn’t be centered around one person being in the lineup, the lack of Ekblad, coupled with a rotating list of other players being out, left a lot to be desired in how the team was playing. A steady defense then opened things up for the offense to generate more scoring opportunities.

Aleksander Barkov Leadership:

It’s no secret that Barkov is great at setting his teammates up for success, just look at what he’s able to do for Reinhart on the power play. But some situations require a team leader to step up and right the ship. That’s exactly what Barkov did against Detroit. The offense was getting the zone time but wasn’t converting shots into goals, the majority of the shots were getting blocked or going wide with Lyon saving the chances he did see. They were clearly frustrated and were down 0-1 all the way until the last 8 minutes of the game. Ekblad came out of the box and grabbed possession of the puck. He was then able to grab the rebound off his own shot to get it to Barkov, who put it to the net to tie the game. That one goal was a huge energy boost to the rest of the team, and I felt like it could jump-start the scoring for the Panthers and turn the bounces their way. His impressive play continued a few minutes later when he utilized his long reach and stick-handling stills to get a rolling puck through the 5-hole to give the Panthers the 2-1 lead. While the game ultimately went to overtime in order to get the win, the team wouldn’t get to that point without Barkov and his leadership. He stepped up in the big moment when his team needed him to make plays.

Bobrovsky and Reinhart Win in OT:

Regulation wasn’t enough to get things done and neither was regular overtime, this game went the distance to the shootout. Bobrovsky came up with some massive saves during the 3v3 and especially was sharp during the PK that happened at that time. Bob kept the Detroit lead at 1 or tied for the entirety of regulation as he frustrated the Red Wings’ offense as much as Lyon was frustrating the Cats. Bob also didn’t allow a single Detroit player to score in the shootout leading to the Florida win. Reinhart played a good game but didn’t get the power play opportunities he usually has, and during the single power play Florida did get, he had the entire Detroit PK Unit on him in the slot. Reinhart was the first one on the ice to shoot during the shootout and he’s the only player for either team who scored. His shot went up and over the shoulder of Lyon into the top corner of the net. While he doesn’t get credited for a goal in a shootout, he was still the one to win the game for the Panthers. The Panthers have another 4 game stretch this coming week with a back-to-back Monday/Tuesday against Toronto and Montreal, Ottawa on Thursday and a rematch with Boston on Saturday.

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