After weeks of being one of the hotter teams in the NHL, the Florida Panthers find themselves on a two-game skid, hoping to get back to their winning ways when they host the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday in Sunrise, Fla.
Having won nine straight games heading into the weekend, the Panthers fell 4-1 to the New Jersey Devils Saturday and allowed a late, tying goal Monday against the Anaheim Ducks, eventually dropping a 5-4 decision in overtime.
Suddenly, they’re trying to stay in the race for the top of the Eastern Conference and prevent a quick slide down the standings.
“When you start getting beat one-on-one, that’s a tell for something else that is going on in your game,” head coach Paul Maurice said after the loss to Anaheim. “We were not happy with the way we played. I think we’re going to leave this one right here.”
While the season began with a few hiccups for Florida, they enter the Detroit matchup sitting second in the East, behind only the Boston Bruins, and find themselves getting positive performances throughout their roster despite significant turnover from their Stanley Cup Final run last season.
Although the Panthers appeared to sway from their usual team consistency over the past two outings, veteran forward Sam Reinhart continued his blistering scoring form. He scored his 32nd goal of the season Monday, extending his goal streak to seven games and tying Pavel Bure for the longest streak in franchise history.
Against the Red Wings, he will have a chance to make franchise history.
“Can’t even keep track of them at this point,” Florida forward Sam Bennett said of Reinhart’s milestones through the campaign. “When they said 32nd during the game, some of us looked at each other on the bench and were like, ‘Thirty-two already?’ That’s impressive.”
The Red Wings head to the Sunshine State riding a two-game win streak and a 5-0-1 record since the calendar turned to 2024.
They’ve beaten the Los Angeles Kings and Toronto Maple Leafs, the latter coming after a delayed travel day, which saw the team left at the airport for several hours due to weather delays.
“We’re going into the biggest stretch of our season,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “Next week, we’re at home, but we got Florida and Carolina this week on the road. It’s going to show us a lot about our team.”
In the thick of the Eastern Conference wild-card race, the Red Wings were tied for third in the league entering Tuesday’s games with 155 goals. They’ll look to continue that against the stingy Panthers, who’ve conceded just 111, the third-fewest, entering Tuesday, of all 32 teams.
Both clubs enter the game with injury concerns as well. Patrick Kane left Detroit’s win over Toronto and did not return. Coach Derek Lalonde said Tuesday that Kane would not be available for the Wings’ upcoming two-game road trip.
Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov left the Anaheim matchup midway through the third period but is expected to play on Wednesday.
–Field Level Media
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