The Florida Panthers didn’t do themselves any favors in letting another third-period lead slip away on Friday night — but they didn’t get much help, either.
The Panthers were on the wrong end of a pair of controversial video calls, which might have been the difference in a 4-3 shootout loss to the visiting Detroit Red Wings.
The Panthers have won just four of their past 13 games.
“We had a two-goal lead and started to sit back,” Vincent Trocheck said. “We tried to prevent them from scoring instead of playing our game and that’s when you get in trouble, stay in the defensive zone too much.”
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Florida had what would have been a three-goal lead erased by a questionable interference call on Nick Bjugstad after goalie Jared Coreau gave up a 45-foot shot to Keith Yandle in the second.
Yandle was able to celebrate the goal which gave Florida a short-lived 4-1 lead, but Detroit challenged whether Bjugstad had interfered with the goalie.
After a video review, officials said Bjugstad was in the crease and despite no contact being made “prevented Coreau from doing his job in his crease.”
“It’s very frustrating; we played hard, and you feel like it was almost taken away from you,” Yandle said. “You look at the fourth goal, there wouldn’t have been a shootout. We work hard and to have stuff go against you like that … it’s hard.”
Said Panthers interim coach Tom Rowe: “The Yandle goal was a fair goal, but the ruling says the goalie needs to have room to make the save. They ruled he didn’t.”
Florida instead went into the second intermission up 3-1 and watched Detroit tie things up in the third, as Drew Miller and Frans Nielsen each scored.
The Panthers had chances time and again to retake the lead and sneak out with a victory but failed to cash in on a 4-on-3 overtime chance.
In the shootout, it appeared Nielsen shot the puck a second time after it hit Roberto Luongo’s pad and went in on the shootout-deciding goal; officials ruled video was inconclusive and the goal stood.
The Panthers also hurt themselves when Trocheck’s opening shootout goal was disallowed after footage of the puck going post-to-post and not crossing the goal line was shown on the large center scoreboard.
Officials quickly went to the video booth and the goal was snatched away.
“I guess it went up on our scoreboard,” Rowe said. “I don’t know why they did that, anyway, that’s the way it goes.”
The Panthers took their initial lead with 2:20 left in the first when Reilly Smith — who was knocked out of the game with a concussion on a big hit from Niklas Kronwall in the second — scored from the slot.
Rowe said Smith will miss the next week to 10 days.
“We don’t think it’s too serious,” Rowe said.
Just over a minute after Detroit tied the score on the initial face off to open the second, Jason Demers made it 2-1 on a long shot that skipped through traffic and past Coreau.
Derek MacKenzie scored Florida’s third goal when he camped out on the side of the cage, took a long pass from Mike Matheson and fired into an empty net midway through the second period.
“At the end of the day, we have a 3-1 lead in the third period and only come out with a point,” MacKenzie said. “That’s obviously disappointing.”
Jaromir Jagr, who took over sole possession of second place on the NHL scoring list in Thursday’s loss to the Bruins, notched a secondary assist on Demers’ goal.
Detroit holds the longest active postseason streak in North American pro sports at 25 but came into Friday in last place in the Atlantic, seven points back of a playoff spot.