Cats Return Home for Games Versus Atlanta & Chicago
DETROIT, MI - Playing in their sixth preseason contest in eight nights, the Florida Panthers were edged by the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 on Sunday evening at Joe Louis Arena. Panthers G Ed Belfour played solid in night turning away 27 shots in 60 minutes of action, while C Janis Sprukts and D Ric Jackman each netted their first preseason tallies.
Sprukts put the Panthers on the scoreboard early in the first period when he carried the puck over the blue line and let a wrist shot fly that beat Detroit netminder Dominik Hasek on his glove side, less than two minutes into the contest. Jackman gave Florida a two-goal pad after RW Juraj Kolnik dug the puck out from along the boards and made a beautiful feed to Jackman, who fired a shot past Hasek with exactly sixteen minutes to play in the first period. Belfour stopped all 10 shots that he faced in the opening 20 minutes of play.
Detroit cut the Panthers lead in half at 11:59 of the middle frame when C Johan Franzen picked up his second of the preseason on a power play tally, with Cats C Olli Jokinen was serving a two-minute minor for hooking. The Red Wings knotted the game at 2-2 when D Mathieu Schneider netted his first of the preseason at 17:49 on the power play. Less than two minutes later, C Kris Draper gave the Red Wings the lead when he found the back of the net at 18:26. Robert Lang closed out the scoring for Detroit with an empty net goal with two seconds remaining in the game.
Notable players missing from the Panthers line-up on Sunday night included RW Nathan Horton, C Stephen Weiss, RW Martin Gelinas and C Rostilav Olesz all who played on Saturday night in an exhibition contest in San Juan, while RW Todd Bertuzzi and LW Ville Peltonen both sat out due to minor injury.
The Panthers returned home Sunday night and will host a set of back-to-back home contests to complete the exhibition slate, playing the Atlanta Thrashers (Sept. 27) and the Chicago Blackhawks (Sept. 28). Both games begin at 7:30 p.m.