Whether it’s the chili-covered coney dogs or the abundance of cheap Little Caesars pizza, the Panthers really seem to enjoy their visits to Detroit.
On Sunday, the Panthers kept their Motor City winning streak going as Brian Campbell scored 80 seconds into overtime to lift Florida to a 2-1 win over the Red Wings.
Florida has won five consecutive games at Joe Louis Arena and has earned at least a point (6-0-1) in its past seven here.
Before beating the Red Wings 2-1 on Nov. 20, 2009, on a Bryan McCabe overtime goal, Florida had only won in Detroit once before in franchise history.
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Now, winning is commonplace for the Panthers in Detroit.
“We did what we had to do,” said Campbell, who cashed in on a nice Jonathan Huberdeau feed in overtime. “We worked hard, played a strong game throughout and had a bit of a bad break. Those things happen, but we found a way to gut it out.’’
The Panthers, kicking off the opener of a five-game trip with a victory, appeared to take the first lead just 28 seconds into the game when Reilly Smith cleaned up a loose puck as Huberdeau got hit from behind and rolled into goalie Petr Mrazek.
Although officials initially gave Smith a goal, after a group discussion, they waved off the goal because of Huberdeau’s goalie interference.
Coach Gerard Gallant challenged the call, but it stood and the game remained scoreless.
“It was close, a 50-50 call, but it was early in the game,’’ Gallant said. “I wanted to get that momentum. It just didn’t go our way. I thought it was a good goal.”
Said Huberdeau: “I think it was the right call, I don’t think it was a goal. I may have gotten tripped; I tried to make a move.’’
The game remained a goalie battle throughout with Roberto Luongo and Mrazek making one save after another.
The first goal to stick came from the Wings after Sasha Barkov made a rare mistake by coughing up the puck in the Florida zone. Dylan Larkin jumped all over it, drove in and beat Luongo for his 10th goal of the season.
Luongo didn’t give up anything else after that.
“We thought we were playing well so we went into the third wanting to do what we had been doing,” said Luongo, who made 28 saves. “We knew we needed a lucky bounce to tie it, and that’s what we got. I was trying to do my job, make the save when needed. It was nice to tie it in the third, get rewarded a little.’’
Down 1-0, the Panthers kept coming at Mrazek (30 saves) but kept getting turned away.
Late in the third, defenseman Aaron Ekblad — who grew up across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario — fired a shot from 40 feet out toward the net.
Smith, who had that goal taken away in the opening minute, was in front of the cage, got a piece of the puck and deflected it into the net.
“It kind of happens that way, you get one taken away from you early and then you get good bounces afterward,” Smith said. “This really helped the team. We haven’t been scoring much, but if we can get two or three, we’re in the thick of things.’’
Florida kept the defensive pressure up in the final five-plus minutes of the third to force overtime for a second consecutive game.
Instead of going to a shootout as they did Friday, the Panthers took the win after Jussi Jokinen and Huberdeau broke free with Huberdeau leaving the puck for a trailing Campbell, who buried the pass.
The Panthers are now 3-4 in overtime with Sunday’s win their first in the new 3-on-3 format.
Florida’s previous overtime wins this season came in the shootout.
“We won a game, and we’re moving forward,’’ Campbell said.
▪ Jaromir Jagr was back in the lineup after leaving Friday’s game in the third period with a sore knee. Jagr appeared to have his minutes managed during the game, but he still ended up playing 20 shifts and his 15:01 was fourth-highest among Florida’s forwards.
When asked how he was feeling afterward, Jagr smiled and said: “I’m surviving.”
▪ Center Dave Bolland was a healthy scratch for a third consecutive game as he and Shawn Thornton sat out Sunday.
▪ The Panthers continue their trip Tuesday in St. Louis. The team will hold a closed practice at Scottrade Center on Monday afternoon after traveling to Missouri on Sunday night.