Struggling Red Wings look for turnaround vs. Panthers

The Detroit Red Wings see signs of history repeating itself. That’s not a good thing.

The Red Wings had by far the worst record in the NHL last season. After eight games this season, they’re in last place in the makeshift Central Division and have gone 0-3-1 in their last four outings.

They’ll try to set a new course with back-to-back home games against the Florida Panthers on Saturday and Sunday.

This week, the Red Wings lost at Dallas in overtime 2-1 on Tuesday, then gave up four third-period goals in a 7-3 loss to the Stars on Thursday.

“We took a real step back,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “We have to regroup. It’s not going to be easy. We’re getting home late and we have to turn around and play on Saturday but we have to find a way to regroup. Dig deeper and ultimately we have to have a lot of guys play a lot better. We have individuals who can play better hockey, for sure.”

The Stars gave up their bodies much more than the Wings on Thursday, blocking 21 shots compared to seven by the visitors. Detroit had plenty of man-advantages but converted on just one of seven power plays.

“We’re fighting against ourselves, not actually fighting, but we have the puck on the stick and we’re nervous to make plays and we don’t want it on our stick,” team captain Dylan Larkin said. “We’re second-guessing everything and not moving around. Every power-play goal we scored this year, we kept it simple and threw it on net, and it’s not the prettiest goal, but it’s in the net. We didn’t do that nearly enough and it has to find a way to get going.”

When the Wings have scored on the power play, Tyler Bertuzzi has been the finisher. He’s tallied three power-play goals in the last three games off rebounds.

The Red Wings are playing short-handed. They have five players on the league’s COVID-19 protocols list. That group includes two of their better offensive threats, Filip Zadina and Robby Fabbri.

That’s not going to earn them any sympathy.

“We can’t keep letting two points slip away here,” Larkin said. “Every game is important, being against our own division.”

The Panthers have played just four games due to COVID-19 issues. They won their first three games before Thursday’s 3-2 road shootout loss to Columbus.

“I don’t think we’re walking out of here licking our wounds by any means, but we obviously have to know we can beat a team like this and take a lead in games,” defenseman Aaron Ekblad said. “There’s a lot to work on, no doubt. Be happy about it, but never satisfied.”

Carter Verhaeghe and Patric Hornqvist have gotten off to hot starts, scoring four goals apiece. Anthony Duclair has five assists.

Hornqvist forced overtime on a goal with three seconds left in regulation during a shootout victory over Columbus. In the rematch, Eetu Luostarinen scored a third-period goal to force overtime.

“On the road against a team we know works hard, we came in and had two great comebacks in the third period,” Ekblad said. “We really showed our resiliency as a team. A lot of positives to take out of it, and a lot of things we can work on. All in all, we’re really excited to get to Detroit.”

–Field Level Media

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