SUNRISE, FLA. – That’s how you turn a negative into a positive.

In a game in which nothing seemed to go their way – and the second straight game in which the whistles did the same – the Florida Panthers channeled their collective frustration into a gritty 3-2 shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings at Amerant Bank Arena on Saturday.

“I think we needed it,” Panthers head coach Paul Maurice. “I think we’ve needed the frustration we’ve been seeing, the frustration and adversity. I think we’ve created our own problems to start. We had a whole bunch of problems, just some strange things happened -- some health, we had a bunch of guys get sick we didn’t say much about. Then we had the disparity in the penalty kill and power play adversity. That’ll frustrate you, too. But I think we got better through it tonight. That’s a players’ win for me because the coach didn’t have much to say today. I like the way they ran the bench. I like the way they came together.”

Improving to 47-22-5, the Panthers have once again overtaken the Boston Bruins (42-17-15) to claim the top spot in the Atlantic Division with just eight games left in the regular season.

Getting back on track against Detroit, the division remains up for grabs.

“It’s been easier to get frustrated,” Panthers forward Sam Reinhart said of the team’s recent dip in play. “But for us to channel that today and get back in the win column is important.”

Briefly losing a key player less than a minute after puck drop, the Red Wings had a scare when captain Dylan Larkin was hit by a shot in the back of the left leg. Unable to put any weight on the injured leg, he had to be helped to the locker room after the incident.

Despite how bad it looked in that moment, he did eventually return to the game.

On the power play, the Red Wings opened the scoring when Robby Fabbri took a cross-ice pass from David Perron and beat Sergei Bobrovsky with a laser of a wrist shot from the center of the right circle to make it 1-0 at 10:31 of the first period.

Just before the 13-mintue mark of the second period, Bobrovsky helped keep the deficit to just one goal when he denied Alex DeBrincat on a breakaway.

Later in the period, Perron drew the ire of Sam Bennett when he took a cheap shot on Niko Mikkola. After seeing the incident unfold, Bennett tackled Perron to the ice. Perron, who likely should’ve received a much harsher punishment, got a two-minute penalty, as did Bennett. 

In the zone, Alex Lyon, trying to replicate the late-season heroics he had with the Panthers last year, kept the Red Wings on top heading into the second intermission when he went right to left to rob Reinhart on a perfect shorthanded shot from on the doorstep in the waning seconds of the period.

“Lyon is a good goalie,” Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov said. “We know that from last year."

With frustration over calls starting to take hold, the Panthers finally managed to turn the tide following a strong penalty kill in the third period.

Flying out of the box, Aaron Ekblad carried the puck straight down the slot and battled his way through bodies before the rubber eventually ended up on the stick of a trailing Barkov, who finished off the impressive display of determination by burying a shot to make it 1-1 at 12:21.

Barkov's 20th makes it 1-1 in the third period.

“He was the biggest reason for the first goal we scored,” Barkov said of Ekblad.

Less than three minutes later, the captain struck again when he carried the puck into the offensive zone, deked around a defender and then – due to the chaos he had created – another Red Wings defender knocked the puck past Lyon and across to the goal line to make it 2-2 at 15:04.

“We didn’t like our first period,” Barkov said. “We had some chances, but I don’t think that was our game. We didn’t play the right way. After the first period, we started playing a lot harder. In the second and third, that looked a lot more like us.”

Barkov's second of the game makes it 2-1 in the third

Then, of course, more controversy.

After a routine hip-check from Brandon Montour was called as a trip, the Red Wings evened the score on their ensuing power play when Larkin lit the lamp to make it 2-2 at the 16-mintue mark.

Earning another power play in overtime, the Red Wings, who are fighting for their playoff lives, were denied a chance to pick up a crucial extra point thanks to another great showing from the Panthers on the penalty kill.

Despite that trip to the man advantage, Detroit recorded zero shots in the extra frame.

“The penalty kill was very big tonight,” Reinhart said.

Following a scoreless overtime, Bobrovsky, who turned aside a combined 20 shots in regulation and the extra frame, took center stage in the shootout. With Reinhart scoring the lone goal in the skills competition, the two-time Vezina Trophy winner stopped all three Red Wings shooters he faced to nail down the deserved 3-2 win for the Panthers.

At 5-on-5 against Detroit, Florida led 75-27 in shot attempts.

“We had an awful lot of zone time, a lot of shot blocks and fine opportunities to score,” Maurice said. “Alex Lyon made some really good saves. I think we missed on a bunch, too. Then you’re in the box and you’ve got a problem. We were better than the final score.”


“It’s a driving force all year for us. We’re close to top-five. When you take a look at our penalty kill, it struggled early. We had a whole bunch of new guys to integrate. Then it’s been really good after that point.” – Paul Maurice on the team’s stalwart penalty kill

“That’s what you want out of your best player. When we’re playing our best, he’s leading the way.” – Sam Reinhart on Aleksander Barkov’s two-goal performance

“Every win is important here. It builds the confidence, builds the game. We’ve been trying to build our game. Winning helps. When you win, you’ve done something right. Today, in the second and third [periods], we played the right way.” – Aleksander Barkov on picking up a win before hitting the road


- The Panthers led 3.01-1.25 in expected goals at 5-on-5, per NaturalStatTrick.com.

- Florida led 30-4 in shot attempts at 5-on-5 when Anton Lundell was on the ice.

- Sergei Bobrovsky made six high-danger saves.

- Eetu Luostarinen and Gustav Forsling each blocked two shots.

- Seventeen of 18 skaters recorded at least one hit for the Panthers.

- Aleksander Barkov set a new franchise record for career multi-goal games (32).

- The Panthers have earned just two power plays compared to 12 for their opponents over the last two games.


The Panthers will kick off their final road trip of the season with a divisional matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on Monday at 7 p.m. ET.

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