Struggling Red Wings visit resilient Panthers

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The Florida Panthers, who host the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night, are 4-0-0 this season when leading after two periods.

And, in the seven games in which the Panthers have trailed or were tied entering the third period, they have managed to grab at least one point four times.

“We don’t give up,” Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau said. “We don’t panic, even if we are down by two goals. We’re good, and we know we can come back every game.”

That was certainly the case in Florida’s most recent game, a 4-3 win in overtime against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday in Denver. Florida trailed 3-2 until Huberdeau scored with just 90 seconds left in regulation. Huberdeau then scored again 29 seconds into OT for the win.

It was yet another Panthers win against an upper-echelon team. Most of Florida’s opponents this season have been among the league’s top half, although that won’t be the case against Detroit.

The Red Wings, who lost 7-3 to the host Carolina Hurricanes on Friday, have just four victories this season, leaving them with the highest defeat total in the Eastern Conference. The Red Wings have also dropped nine of their past 10 games, including five straight on the road.

Detroit on Saturday will likely face Panthers No. 1 goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who is 5-2-3 with a 3.70 goals-against average and an .873 save percentage in this his first season with Florida.

Bobrovsky is coming off the win at Colorado but has yet to play up to his seven-year, $70 million contract.

Florida could also opt to use backup goalie Sam Montembeault. The 23-year-old has made three starts this season and is 1-1-1 with a 2.80 GAA and a .905 save percentage.

Detroit is expected to use goalie Jonathan Bernier, who stopped 11 of the 12 shots he faced in relief on Friday. Starter Jimmy Howard was pulled after stopping 16 of 21 shots.

Huberdeau leads Florida with seven goals and is tied with captain Aleksander Barkov for the team lead in points with 15. Barkov has a team-leading 14 assists.

Barkov, though, didn’t get his first goal this season until his 13th game of the season — Wednesday against Colorado.

“Finally, I did something,” joked Barkov, who became a first-time NHL All-Star last season when he scored a career-high 35 goals. “I’m happy.”

The Panthers are less happy about the injury sustained by forward Jayce Hawryluk, who took a big hit from Colorado defenseman Nikita Zadorov. Hawryluk will miss about a month due to what is being called an upper-body injury.

Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson and forward Vincent Trocheck are also out, both due to lower-body injuries.

The Wings are without three injured players — center Luke Glendening (upper body), winger Justin Abdelkader (lower body) and defenseman Danny DeKeyser (undisclosed) — who have combined to play 28 games this season.

Detroit is led by left winger Tyler Bertuzzi (six goals, eight assists), right winger Anthony Mantha (nine goals, five assists) and center Dylan Larkin (four goals, eight assists). That trio combined for three goals and one assist in the Friday loss to Carolina.

Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill has expressed great faith in Larkin in particular.

“He plays his best hockey when he matches up against other teams’ best players,” Blashill said. “That seems to bring out the best in him.”

–Field Level Media

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