DETROIT — On Steve Lorentz’s game-winning goal for the Florida Panthers against Detroit Red Wings, the puck struck goalie James Reimer‘s glove, the crossbar, and then caromed off Reimer’s back before entering the net.
It was emblematic of the kind of night the Red Wings endured in the 2-0 home loss to the Panthers.
“It’s just one of those nights,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said. “We hit a couple of posts. It feels like it should have been a three-point game, but it wasn’t.”
The game felt like the Red Wings wasted a quality goaltending start from Reimer. It felt like the Red Wings took too many penalties (five). It mostly felt like the kind of game the Red Wings need to win if they want to end their playoff drought at seven seasons.
“Chances are 10-10, it’s a 0-0 game,’ Lalonde said. “We just didn’t find one tonight, so I don’t know if it was so much their game. Obviously, they’re a team that can create and score. I think both teams would be happy with their penalty kill, both teams are very happy with their five-on-five. It’s a one-goal game. I didn’t mind our game. Thought they had a better first period, I didn’t mind our second. I really thought we were doing some good things five on five in the second, we just couldn’t get to our five on five game.”
Beating Florida is Critical
The Panthers beat out the Red Wings, among others, to make the playoffs last season. Florida has now won 10 in a row against Detroit. In the last 14 games against Florida, the Red Wings have scored two or fewer goals in all 14 games.
The Red Wings brought in Reimer to upgrade their goaltending and he’s delivering. He gave up one second-period goal on 26 shots. Reimer has played up to expectations. He boasts a 1.52 goals-against average, a .944 save percentage and one shutout in his four starts for Detroit.
“He was excellent,” Lalonde said. “I felt a little of the first period shifted on just them getting that first power play look and having some good looks on it. The save he made east-west on that was huge. His first period was huge, when they had some really good looks. His numbers are going to be astronomical. It’s very unfortunate when you don’t give him any run support or goals tonight. He gives up one on 24, 25. One on four or five glorious Grade A’s. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t bail him out tonight.”
Despite his strong play, Reimer only owns a 2-2 record because the Red Wings simply haven’t scored enough. At the start of the season, the Red Wings were scoring five goals per game. Now, they have scored one or no goals in three of their last four games. They need more consistent scoring to be a playoff contender.
Sergei Bobrovsky didn’t have to work all that hard to post a 22-save shutout.
“We gotta find better ways to get pucks through,” Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. “That was a big emphasis for us tonight. I don’t think we did enough of it and we just weren’t making it hard on Bobrovsky.”