Photo by Andrew Knapik/MiHockey

Wings lose third-period lead, fall to Panthers in OT, 2-1

(Photo by Andrew Knapik/MiHockey)

By @StefanKubus –

DETROIT – For the fifth time in seven games and third-straight game at Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings blew a third-period lead.

Unlike Friday night’s 4-3 overtime win over Edmonton, Detroit was unable to recover, falling to the Florida Panthers by a 2-1 final Sunday afternoon in overtime in the NHL’s only game that day. Waterford native Dylan Larkin scored his team-leading tenth goal for Detroit, while Petr Mrazek stopped 30 of 32 shots. Brian Campbell scored the game-winner in OT for Florida, while Reilly Smith had the other Panthers marker. Roberto Luongo picked up his 409th career win, stopping 28 of 29.

Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill said closing out games is something his group needs to learn how to do, adding that it’s part of the maturation process.

“Early in the year, we didn’t have leads, and then you build toward them and when you do have the lead, you’ve gotta make sure you walk away with those wins,” Blashill said. “I think we’ve built as a hockey team up to now, I think we can still continue to get a lot better, but part of that is certainly learning how to keep the lead. I think the biggest thing on that is getting the next goal. The commonality through most of it is we’ve had opportunities to score the next goal and we haven’t, whether it’s 5-on-5 or on the power play, and you’ve got to find a way to put the nail in the coffin.”

Mrazek was stellar once again for Detroit, posting a .937 save percentage and holding a .932 save percentage on the season.

“When they took over the game in the second, he really saved us there and we had a 1-0 lead going into the third,” Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg said.

Just 28 seconds in, Reilly Smith thought he had the opening goal to put the Panthers up 1-0, but Jonathan Huberdeau went sliding into Mrazek, and it was ruled no goal. After Florida head coach Gerard Gallant challenged it, the call was upheld.

Larkin finally broke through for Detroit at 7:02 of the middle frame. Aleksander Barkov went to make a short pass across on the breakout, but it was right on the tape of Larkin, who went in a lone and buried his tenth of the season past Luongo.

“I thought he was really good tonight, I thought he had good jump in his skates and, as a young guy, that’s part of his responsibility to make sure he’s good every night,” Blashill said of the 19-year-old Larkin. “I think as an older guy, you don’t have as much jump every single day, but young guys should. But Dylan’s been a real positive overall. We’re happy with that.”

Halfway through the second stanza, Florida received a lengthy 5-on-3 opportunity, but the Red Wings’ fourth-best home penalty kill stifled the Cats’ 29th-ranked road power play.

“The penalty kill was outstanding today,” Mrazek said. “Glenny, Millsy blocked so many shots today on the 5-on-3. That was a big part of our game today, but one point’s not enough.”

Late in the final frame, a Campbell point shot hit Smith’s leg in front and in to even things up at one aside. It marked the third consecutive game that Detroit had blown a third-period lead.

“It’s not good, I think, although today’s an ugly game, the puck was along the boards the whole time, a lot of special teams, a lot of penalties, it’s tough to get any flow going, but we had a 1-0 lead going into the third, but that goal that they scored kind of sums up the game,” Zetterberg said.

Heading to OT for the fourth-straight game, the Red Wings couldn’t find an answer, as Campbell potted the winner on a great cross-ice feed from Huberdeau.

Detroit fell to 12-8-4 on the season, while the Panthers improved to 10-9-4, pulling to within three points of Detroit in the Atlantic Division.

The Wings host rookie sensation and USA Hockey National Team Development Program alum Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres next on Tuesday.

Notes: Sunday’s contest marked the fourth-straight game that it took an extra frame to decide the Red Wings’ fate. Florida improved to 6-0-1 in its last seven trips to Joe Louis Arena, dating back to Nov. 20, 2009…With his 883rd career game under his belt, Roberto Luongo passed former Panthers netminder, metro-Detroit native and current Muskegon Lumberjacks General Manager and Director of Hockey Operations John Vanbiesbrouck (882 GP) for eighth on the NHL’s all-time games played list among goaltenders.

(Photo by Andrew Knapik/MiHockey)