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Nyquist, power play get back on track

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Tomas Tatar had a golden scoring chance taken a way by Florida goalie Roberto Luongo on a first-period power-play opportunity. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – It’s been five years since the Red Wings last had someone score a dozen power-play goals.

Could Gustav Nyquist be the next?

The Swedish forward is certainly on pace to become the first Red Wings’ player to register 12 or more power-play goals since former net-front specialist Tomas Holmstrom tallied 13 in 2009-10.

Nyquist’s first-period beauty stood as the tying goal as the Wings and Florida Panthers dueled to 45-plus minutes of scoreless hockey Friday night.

Unfortunately, the Wings failed to pick up a second point when they were shutout in the shootout. The 3-2 loss drops the Red Wings to 1-5 in shootouts this season.

It’s the second straight shootout for the Red Wings, who are in a three-way tie with Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay for first place in the Eastern Conference.

“When we get to the shootout we’re not a confident group so we just gotta keep working on it,” coach Mike Babcock said. “There’s no sense in hanging our head, or getting disappointed. We talked about it, we understand that we’re affected by it mentally right now. Let’s fight through it and find a way to win one.”

Red Wings’ shooters are 3-for-15 in shootout attempts this season, while goalie Jimmy Howard has allowed nine goals on 12 shots.

“It's frustrating, it really is,” said Howard, who made 24 saves in the game, but allowed goals to both Panthers shooters in the shootout. We keep having meeting after meeting after meeting about it. We work on it in practice. Just gonna have to stick with it.”

Nyquist continues to shine season this season, especially on the specialty team. He evened the score at 2-2 in the final minute of the first period, giving him eight power-play goals, tying him for the league lead with New York Islanders’ Brock Nelson, Pittburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, and San Jose’s Joe Pavelski.

Nyquist made an outstanding spin-o-rama to create time in space, getting a way from Tomas Fleischmann for a split second before lifting a backhander past veteran goalie Roberto Luongo at 19:21. Captain Henrik Zetterberg had the lone assist on the goal, giving him a team-leading 26 points.

“We gained the zone and rimmed the puck around and Hank was strong on the wall, winning that puck and made a great pass to me in the middle,” Nyquist said. “Figured I wasn’t going to get a good angle, the D man was coming at me so I just tried to spin around him and get the puck on net and it went in. … It’s a tough angle to shoot from there, so I figured it would be a better angle to get my stick on the inside and move to the middle.”

The club record for power-play goals in a single season is 21, shared by Mickey Redmond (1972-73) and Dino Ciccarelli (1992-93).

Detroit’s power play, which hadn’t produced a goal in the past three games, was a key in the first period. Goals by Riley Sheahan and Nyquist with the man-advantage sent the teams to the first intermission tied. The Wings were 2-for-4 with the man advantage.

Sheahan put the Wings ahead for the only time in the game, swatting home a rebound from the low slot with 40 seconds left in Dmitry Kulikov’s tripping penalty. It was Sheahan’s sixth goal in his past 14 games.

Nearly nine minutes later the Panthers had a one-goal lead when Fleischmann and Nick Bjudstad scored even-strength goals. Each goal was the third of the season for the Panthers’ forwards.

The two goals gives the Red Wings a league-leading 26 on the power play – one better than the Penguins.

“I think ever since we started clicking (on the power play) we’ve been creating chances,” Nyquist said. “I know we hadn’t scored in three games but we had a couple great looks the past few games. We had another good look in the second, spent the whole power play in their zone, created a lot of chances, couldn’t find that third goal unfortunately. As long as we keep working hard and creating chances we’re going to score some goals eventually.”

Besides the loss, the Red Wings are awaiting news on forward Stephen Weiss, who appeared to suffer a shoulder injury late in the second period. During a 16-second span, the veteran forward absorbed a pair of hits from Panthers forwards Dave Bolland and Sean Bergenheim.

“We’ll see if we lose him,” Nyquist said. “I don’t know if he’s back for next game. Obviously we need him. He’s been great ever since he got back. It’s great to see him on the ice again. He helps our team out a lot. Hopefully it’s not too bad.”

Weiss, who has dealt with several lasting injuries over the past 2 ½ seasons, did not return to the ice for the third period. He is not expected to play Saturday in Toronto, Babcock said.

Daniel Cleary will take Weiss’s place in the lineup, and defenseman Brian Lashoff will replace Jakub Kindl along the blue line, and goalie Petr Mrazek will get his fourth start in the fifth and final regular-season game against the Maple Leafs.

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