DETROIT -- The last time the Panthers beat the Red Wings in Detroit, Radek Dvorak was a still just a fresh-faced kid from the Czech Republic who helped the Panthers make it to the Stanley Cup Finals the season before as a rookie.
Dvorak potted the game-winner on Dec. 1, 1996 as Florida topped the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
He was there Friday night when the Panthers did it again.
This time, Bryan McCabe did the honors as Florida beat Detroit 2-1 in overtime.
The Panthers, who sandbagged it much of the night to secure the one point, have now won seven of 10 after starting the season with just two wins in a 10 game span.
Friday, as the clock ran down to end
regulation, a few smiles and congratulatory slaps on the back were
seen on the Panthers bench.
Florida hadn't won anything. The game
against the Red Wings was tied and going to overtime.
Just like the Panthers wanted.
The real celebration came 40 seconds
into overtime as McCabe fired a shot off Stanley Cup champion
goalie Chris Osgood to lift the Panthers to 2-1 victory at Joe Louis
Arena. The win was rare indeed; Florida had only won here once before
– on Dec. 1, 1996.
''Luckily we pulled it out in
overtime,'' said McCabe, whose team has won seven of its past 10 to
climb back to respectability after winning just two of its first 10.
''We were down 1-0 going into the third in Detroit, one of the best
teams in the league. We thought we were in a great spot. We stuck
with the program and grinded it out. That's Cats hockey. We're
starting to create an identity here.''
The Panthers didn't do much throughout
Friday's game, leaving the heavy lifting to backup goalie Scott
Clemmensen. The last time Clemmensen was in net, he gave up seven
goals – including five in the third period – in a lopsided loss
Friday, Clemmensen looked like the guy
Florida wanted during free agency and signed to a three-year deal.
Clemmensen was tough and was poised, swatting away 22 shots before
Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk broke the ice nearly 38 minutes into the
Before then, the fans at the Joe might
have wanted a little caffeine to stay awake as the Panthers looked to
just keep things close. The strategy worked.
''Great win, we really battled hard
tonight,'' said Clemmensen, who stopped 39 shots – including all 14
in the pivotal third. Florida took both shots in overtime as they
picked up the play substantially. ''I give my teammates credit. They
battled in the third and got the equalizer. Then McCabe gets the
overtime goal. I wasn't off to the start here I wanted to be. I take
full responsibility for that. I want to be part of the solution
The Panthers tied the score 8:13 into
the third when Stephen Weiss took a beautiful feed from Nathan Horton
along the goal cage. Horton saw Weiss standing all alone and the
crisp pass seemed to surprise Weiss as he almost whiffed. Weiss
buried the second try as Osgood was slow getting back in position.
Florida didn't do much of anything
after that but try and keep the Red Wings away from Clemmensen. After
the light celebration at the end of regulation, the Panthers came
strong in overtime with Weiss getting off a good shot that bounded
back. Six seconds later, McCabe sent a screamer from the top of the
right circle on Florida's 20th shot of the night.
''They are a great hockey team; their
record and Stanley Cups speak for themselves,'' said coach Pete
DeBoer. ''Anytime you can come in here and get one or two points,
it's an accomplishment. We needed our goaltender to be our best
player tonight and he was.''
And now, the Panthers are off to New York. With wins in Buffalo and Detroit, the Cats are trying to pull all six points out of this crucial roadtrip.
Anyone else see that one coming?
-- It took forwards Cory Stillman and
Steven Reinprecht a little while to get going. Kind of like the
Only the Panthers are still going
strong, but the Stillman-Reinprecht combo could be on the shelf for
The one negative out of Florida's 2-1
overtime victory over the Red Wings Friday was that Stillman – who
had goals in six of eight games coming in – was lost with a left
knee injury. Stillman was driven into the boards midway through the
second period and coach Pete DeBoer says he's out for some time.
The Panthers will call up a forward
from their AHL affiliate in Rochester, N.Y., before Saturday's game
in New York against the Rangers.
In Florida's run of seven wins in 10
games, Reinprecht and Stillman accounted for 20 points (none Friday)
as the Panthers have gotten back into contention after a rough start.
Florida started with two wins in its first 10 with DeBoer calling out
both players at times for their play.
''It's a lot of fun playing with
Stiller,'' said Reinprecht. ''He's been around a while and is a good
offensive player. It took us a little while to get started.''
Stillman started off very slowly and
didn't get his first goal until Oct. 31 in St. Louis – Florida's
12th game of the season. His goal against Buffalo on Wednesday was a
beauty, as he and Stillman raced up the ice with only a Buffalo
defender and goalie Ryan Miller in the way.
Reinprecht carried the puck up the ice,
Stillman on his right. When Stillman slowed a bit to create a passing
lane, Reinprecht easily picked up on it and slid it across the ice.
Stillman teed off on the pass and buried what looked like an easy
The two looked like they had been
playing together for years and not weeks. The Panthers just hope its
not months before they are back together.