DETROIT (AP)Aaron Ekblad scored twice on the power play and Florida Panthers recorded their eighth straight win over Detroit, beating the Red Wings 3-2 on Friday night.
Ekblad had his first multi-goal game since Dec. 2, 2021, against Buffalo. The Panthers scored only two power-play goals in their first seven games, but they’ve shown vast improvement.
”Our power play is running over 25% since game seven. It’s a good power play and he’s been an important part of that,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said. ”He needs to score goals because he gets into the slot so fast, it happens for him. He needs those pucks to go in and he was great.”
Gustav Forsling also scored for the Panthers and Eric Staal recorded his 600th career assist on Forsling’s goal. Alexsander Barkov had two assists, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves.
”Sometimes a goaltender can just settle your entire team down,” Maurice said.
Florida, which defeated Arizona in its previous outing, has a .500 record at 18-18-4.
”There’s a lot of urgency, especially in a game like tonight, a divisional game,” Staal said. ”The old cliche, four points, so important. We’re chasing these guys, chasing a lot of different teams, so we have ourselves in a good position to have meaningful games down the stretch. This is just a good first step toward that.”
Robby Fabbri scored in his second game this season after recovering from ACL surgery. Jonatan Berggren added a goal Detroit, which has lost three of its last four games. Ville Husso made 17 saves.
Both teams scored during the first three minutes. Detroit’s Ben Chiarot took a shot from near the blue line that Berggren tipped in for his sixth goal. Forsling answered with his sixth goal, scoring on a slap shot from the point off Staal’s pass from behind the goal line.
The game remained tie until Ekblad’s first power play-goal at 6:27 of the second period. He scored in the slot off a pass from Barkov.
In the opening minute of the third, the Red Wings’ Jake Walman sent a shot off the post and Bobrovsky made a nifty glove save against Dylan Larkin.
”He stole the game.” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said of Bobrovsky. ”He was the first star, second star and third star. He just made some unbelievable saves.”
With Detroit’s David Perron in the penalty box for the second time, the Panthers increased their lead at 8:11 of the third period. Husso made a pad save against Barkov, but Ekblad converted the rebound for his sixth goal.
The Red Wings also gave up two power play goals in a 5-1 loss to New Jersey on Wednesday.
”We’re playing pretty good hockey at 5-on-5, but we’re trailing every time we take a penalty,” Chiarot said. ”It’s got to get better from everyone. It isn’t a matter of structure or anything like that. It’s just a matter of guys being where they are supposed to be and committed to getting the job done. We’re not doing that right now.”
Fabbri’s goal with 3:43 left made it 3-2. The Red Wings had a power play in the final minute, but couldn’t get the tying goal.
”They had good intensity, a good push but I thought we protected the goal very well, we protected the rebounds and the seams,” Bobrovsky said. ”It was a good overall 60-minute effort by our team and a big two points for us.”
Barkov has 41 points in 37 career games against Detroit. … Staal has five points in the last three games. … The Panthers began a stretch in which they play nine of 11 games on the road.
Panthers: At Dallas on Sunday.
Red Wings: At Toronto on Saturday.
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