Florida Panthers

January 27, 2014

Florida Panthers display character in shootout win against Red Wings

Things didn’t look good for the Panthers on Sunday. Not down two goals in a hostile building, not late in the third period.

Things didn’t look good for the Panthers on Sunday. Not down two goals in a hostile building, not late in the third period.

Somehow, Florida pulled one out.

Fueled by late goals from Drew Shore and Brad Boyes, the Panthers forced overtime before earning another shootout win, this one a 5-4 victory over the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

Shore’s goal came less than a minute after Detroit made it 4-2; Boyes’ goal came while Florida was killing a penalty with 3:46 remaining.

Both goals came in the final 5:32 of regulation.

“That was a crazy one. It looked like we were down and out a couple of times,’’ goalie Tim Thomas said.

“We came back with some great individual efforts, and hopefully it was a character-building win. It’s hard coming back in this league.’’

The Panthers think they can make a run to the playoffs despite their current standing. On Sunday, they picked up a point on No. 8 Detroit as they won in the Motor City on both trips this season.

Florida, which has won three of four against the Red Wings, has three more games left on this trip as it handed Detroit its 19th home loss (eighth in overtime) of the season.

“The main thing is getting points,’’ coach Peter Horachek said. “That’s a character win when you find ways to get back in. We didn’t handle a lot of things well, but we kept pushing and pushing.’’

Florida trailed 3-1 going into the final period but cut into its deficit when Jesse Winchester continued his career year by poking in his seventh of the season midway through the third.

Detroit then seemingly put the game away when Tomas Tartar scored with 6:27 remaining.

The Panthers battled back with Tomas Fleischmann working the puck deep in the Detroit zone and freezing goalie Jonas Gustavsson. Fleischmann then slipped a pass to Shore, who scored his fourth of the year.

“There’s no quit here,’’ Winchester said. “We’re finding ways to grind them out.’’

With Marcel Goc going to the penalty box, Florida seemed to lose momentum. But it returned when Boyes got a loose puck and took off on a breakaway. Boyes wasn’t about to pass it to Sean Bergenheim (who made it 1-0 early in the first) and scored Florida’s third short-handed goal since its previous power-play goal.

The Panthers extended their franchise-record for power-play futility, by the way, by going 0 for 4. Florida hasn’t scored in its past 42 power-play opportunities (Dec. 28).

“I’m usually not even on the penalty kill,’’ Boyes said.

Detroit went all-in against Thomas in overtime, with Thomas making two big stops before Danny DeKeyser hopped on a rebound and aimed for an empty net. Unfortunately for him, Tom Gilbert jumped in the way and swatted it to safety.

“That was the save of the game,’’ Winchester said. “It kept us in it.’’

In the shootout, Thomas stopped all three shots faced as Florida —- playing without Aleksander Barkov for the second game in a row — got all it needed from Nick Bjugstad on the opening shot.

“Obviously everyone is pitching in any way they can,’’ said Thomas, who made 26 saves and is now 5-2 in shootouts for the Panthers. “Our problem hasn’t been effort.’’


Horachek said the decision to sit Erik Gudbranson on Sunday after the team activated Dylan Olsen was based on performance.

Gudbranson’s playing time has been diminished since he returned from having surgery on his orbital bone after being smacked in the face by a puck in December.

“The bottom line is he really hasn’t played well,’’ Horachek said. “You have to make decisions.’’

Gudbranson said he wouldn’t use wearing the full-metal cage on his helmet as an excuse, although Horachek mentioned it being a hindrance.

“There’s no issue with that,’’ Gudbranson said.

• The Panthers sent defenseman Alex Petrovic back to AHL San Antonio. Petrovic had been working his way back from injury and hasn’t played since Jan. 4.

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