A few nights after taking a season-high 48 shots in a win over Toronto, the Panthers apparently didn’t have much left in the tank.
Florida took two shots on goal in the opening period and rarely challenged the visiting Red Wings in a 3-1 loss at BB&T Center.
The Panthers play their final game before a 20-day break for the Olympics on Friday at Carolina. Thursday’s game was Florida’s last one at home until Feb. 27.
“They outworked us, it’s as simple as that,’’ coach Peter Horachek said. “We weren’t there for the whole game. We have to work harder than that. You can’t play half a game or a period and expect to win.’’
The Panthers didn’t do much in the first period, getting a Erik Gudbranson shot on goal 1:05 in with Detroit doing the rest of the heavy lifting.
Florida went almost 18 1/2 minutes without a shot before Scottie Upshall charged out of the penalty box and took a perfect pass from Tomas Kopecky as he strode into the Detroit zone.
Upshall got Florida’s second shot of the game with 25.4 seconds to play — and it was a doozy. Upshall’s shot between the skates of Jimmy Howard gave Florida a 1-0 lead going into the second despite being outshot 11-2. Florida would get six more in the second and ended with 24 total.
“We came into the locker room after the second, and all I could think about was us having eight shots,’’ Dmitry Kulikov said. “That’s not enough. It’s not even close to being enough. We got lucky to score at the end of the first after they outplayed us. They spent all that time in our zone.’’
Detroit dominated play in the second as well, only not as pronounced as in the first.
The scoreboard, however, reflected it. The Wings put two pucks past Tim Thomas (30 saves), with Daniel Alfredsson getting his on a power play at 6:30 and Gustav Nyquist driving in unassisted at 13:22.
The Wings outshot Florida 12-6 in the second and went into the third holding a 23-8 advantage.
Florida had a few chances in the third period — including a Sean Bergenheim breakout with 4:30 left — but never put another puck past Howard.
Detroit added its third goal when Brian Lashoff got out of the penalty box and scored into an empty net with 20 seconds left.
“It was great to have the 1-0 lead, but we never built momentum from it,’’ Thomas said. “We had a nice push in the third, but it was too little, too late.’’
Detroit and Florida split the season series with six points each, although the Panthers won three of the five games.
Jonathan Huberdeau said his first NHL fight didn’t come out of frustration because of his recent struggles. Huberdeau, now in his second season, hadn’t fought since his days of junior hockey until jumping all over Toronto’s Jake Gardiner on Tuesday.
“They all made fun of me the next day, ‘Oh, you’re tough,’ ’’ said Huberdeau, who has one goal in his past 25 games after winning the league’s rookie of the year honors last year.
Although Huberdeau doesn’t do much fighting, neither do the Panthers these days. Huberdeau’s bout was Florida’s first since Krys Barch and Winnipeg’s Chris Thorburn duked it out on Dec. 20.
“I think that is something from him working hard, be more competitive on the puck in those situations,’’ Horachek said. “You’re not going to see that every night with him, that’s not his thing. But the fact that he did it? He was fired up. He didn’t back down.’’• The Panthers unveiled banners honoring Olympians Aleksander Barkov (Finland) and Tomas Kopecky (Slovakia) during the first period.
• Kopecky got slapped with a pair of minor penalties in the second — one for hooking and another for unsportsmanlike conduct for flinging the puck at an official.