It has been an inauspicious start to a six-game road trip for the Florida Panthers, who have dropped a pair of one-goal decisions and lost their head coach to start the trek. The Panthers will play their second game under general manager and interim coach Tom Rowe when they visit the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.
Gerard Gallant was dismissed after Florida’s 3-2 loss at Carolina and Rowe’s debut behind the bench was spoiled in a 2-1 shootout defeat at Chicago, although the GM saw a “lot of positives” in the setback. “We got back to getting pucks to the net, getting 39 shots against a heck of a hockey club,” Rowe said. Detroit, which already had a six-game winning streak followed by droughts of five and four games, is trending back up. The Red Wings ran their points streak to four games (3-0-1) with a 3-1 victory over Dallas on Tuesday night.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Florida, FSN Detroit
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (11-10-2): Following Wednesday’s practice, Rowe engaged in a chat with Aleksander Barkov, the 2013 No. 2 overall draft pick whose goalless drought reached a staggering 21 games. Barkov does have six points in his last six games and earned praise from Rowe following the loss in Chicago. “The thing that impresses the heck out of me is (Barkov) is cool as a cucumber on that bench,” Rowe said. “Players like that, it’s going to break. And when it does, it’s going to be big.”
ABOUT THE RED WINGS (11-10-2): One of the biggest reasons for the recent turnaround for Detroit is the play of netminder Petr Mrazek, who has allowed three goals in his past two appearances after yielding four in each of his previous four starts. “When he is playing his best hockey, the puck sticks to him well,” coach Jeff Blashill said after Mrazek made 34 saves against Dallas. The Red Wings also scored twice on the power play versus Dallas after an 0-for-14 slump over the previous five games.
1. Panthers F Jaromir Jagr will move into sole possession of fourth on the all-time list when he plays in his 1,653rd game Thursday.
2. Injured Red Wings D Alexey Marchenko (AC joint) and F Andreas Athanasiou (knee) each reported improvement Wednesday.
3. Florida has posted a pair of three-goal win over the Red Wings this season, including a 5-2 victory at Detroit on Oct. 30.
PREDICTION: Panthers 4, Red Wings 2