It was by no means easy, but the Florida Panthers once again found a way to win. Without Aleksander Barkov, Patric Hornqvist, and Anthony Duclair, the Panthers remained crisp on the ice to edge out their sixth and final win over Detroit in 2021.
Thursday’s match was a test of physicality and neither side wasn’t going out without a fight. The Panthers and Red Wings totaled 12 Penalties with 36 minutes in the penalty box. Besides a fight between Florida’s Ryan Lomberg and Detroit’s Givani Smith, every penalty came in the second and third periods.
Detroit’s true savior came with goaltender Thomas Greiss, who earned a .917 SV%, and did all he could to keep his crew in the game. On the opposing side of the ice, Florida goalie Chris Driedger was also a force to be reckoned with, as he saved 25 of 27 shots.
Without leaders in Barkov, Hornqvist, and Duclair, you may think that team morale levels are at an all-time low. For the Panthers, it’s more about their level of competition that keeps this team rolling.
“Obviously, it’s not always going to be pretty and it’s not always going to go our way, but we somehow keep working and keep doing our part and we get rewarded,” said Alex Wennberg, who scored the game-winner in overtime.
Said head coach Joel Quenneville, “I like how we competed in the games.”
With only 56 games in the 2021 season, consistency is key to compete in the NHL. It’s not about fighting hard to win one, but more about fighting for 60+ minutes every game to have true consistency.
“Four really good games from us right now and there’s no stopping us right now,” Wennberg said.
Especially in Thursday’s game, being physical and competing until the final horn blasts is the story of Panthers hockey in 2021, and it’s working out tremendously.
Star of the Game: Frank Vatrano (1G, 1A)
One of the fastest skaters on the ice every game, Frank Vatrano is also one of the hardest workers. Vatrano came in clutch at multiple points on Thursday, earning the overtime-forcing goal late in the third period. Without Vatrano’s goal, Florida’s chances of winning become lower by the seconds tick.
“It’s good to get that goal to tie that game up, a good play all around. It seems that’s the way it’s going this year. It was good to help the team out. Everyone stepped up tonight,” Vatrano said.
Vatrano continues to come in clutch for Florida, while his team continues to rise in the standings and makes their Stanley Cup dreams closer to reality after each game.