The Red Wings aren’t used to losing games to the Panthers, not in Detroit nor in South Florida.
These past couple of days must feel more than a little strange then.
On Tuesday, the Panthers rallied from a two-goal deficit to stun the visiting Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout at BB&T Center.
It was Florida’s second win over Detroit in four days after leaving the Motor City victorious Saturday for just the third time in franchise history. Florida had only beaten the Red Wings once since moving into its Sunrise arena in 1998 prior to Tuesday.
“I bet you they’re pretty surprised too,” goalie Tim Thomas, who hails from Flint, Mich., said with a smirk. “I think we played better Saturday than we did overall [Tuesday]. But once we got going and put the pressure on them in the third, it was pretty fun to see them come back like them in front of you.”
Detroit took a 2-0 lead into the third period, but despite their record, the Panthers have founds points against others after trailing by that same deficit in the past.
On Tuesday, Dmitry Kulikov got things going for Florida when his 55-foot shot from inside the blue line clipped teammate Sean Bergenheim and slipped past goalie Jimmy Howard five minutes into the period.
Florida kept coming at Howard — who didn’t play Saturday — and got its equalizer with 5:22 remaining when Nick Bjugstad charged in and roofed a shot past Howard.
Bjugstad went around All-World forward Pavel Datsyuk on his way to the net.
“That’s a world-class goal,” Florida coach Peter Horachek said. “That’s a big-time play for Bjugstad. He should get that framed.”
The Panthers had a few scoring chances against Howard at the end of regulation and in overtime, but Detroit could have ended it when Nik Cronwall rang one off the cage with three minutes left.
In the shootout, Aleksander Barkov gave Florida a lead with a sweet move on Howard with Brad Boyes — one of the best shootout specialists in the game — ending it in Round 3.
“It’s nice when the shooters in front of you hit two of three,” said Thomas, who made 24 saves. “It’s makes my job a lot easier.”
Bertuzzi, who spent seven games with the Panthers in 2006, got Detroit going with a power-play goal midway through the first just moments after the Panthers feted Stephen Weiss — the franchise leader in games played — with a highlight package on the scoreboard.
Weiss, playing in Sunrise for the first time since leaving town as a free agent in July, didn’t factor into Detroit’s scoring for the second game in a row against the Panthers. Florida upended the Wings 2-1 on Saturday.
The Red Wings, playing in front of many of their transplanted or vacationing fans, made it 2-0 in the second when Datsyuk — called the “best player in the league” by Horachek, among others — scored off a when Jonathan Ericsson froze Thomas, then tossed the puck to his wide-open teammate.
Ericsson had an earlier goal erased when it was ruled Thomas was interfered with.
Datsyuk missed the past seven games with a concussion.
Weiss was able to watch the team’s tribute video from his spot on the ice as he came on for Detroit’s power play.
A number of his new teammates stood by as a number of Weiss’ highlights — starting with being drafted fourth overall in 2001 to his first NHL goal in 2002 — were shown on the new scoreboard.
Before the game, Weiss said he didn’t really know where to go once inside the building as he dressed in the visiting locker room for the first time.
“It felt strange for sure,” Weiss said. “It certainly feels a little bit strange being on the other side.”
According to a Panthers spokesman, the original piece of replacement glass broke on its way to the ice and the “third-string piece” wasn’t fully ready to go. Another piece — minus the paper backing — was put up in overtime.