Tough to get a read off that game ’cause there really were about four distinct “games within the game” going on.
First period was disjointed but the Red Wings pretty clearly controlled things. Hardly the best play from them but better than Florida, and that was enough. Both goals came on the power play but I don’t think it was necessarily the case of they only scored because they were on the power play, if that makes any sense. It wasn’t a case of the Panthers getting into penalty trouble (penalties were even in the period), it was that the Wings controlled play and, through that, converted on their power plays.
The first half of the second period was absolutely mind-numbing. Detroit, as is the norm of late, was content to hold the lead while the Panthers hadn’t found their game yet.
The second half of the middle frame was all Florida as the Wings were still sitting back and the Panthers finally started to click. No surprise that Florida tied things up, it could have been much worse for the Wings if not for the play of Jonas Gustavsson. If there were two more minutes on the clock, I’m certain the Panthers would have gotten another one.
Detroit regrouped and pounced quick to retake the lead in a third-period that would be frantic all around. Florida didn’t let up and got back within a goal quick. Again, Gustavsson comes up huge and preserves the lead late.
First star: Gustavsson by a mile. Second is Zetterberg, scoring in his return. Third is Datsyuk for doing awesome work on the hold in and pass for Zetterberg’s goal. Honorable mention to Brendan Smith, who played goalie rather nicely to help out Gustavsson on a couple plays and scored the go-ahead goal in the third (from Kyle Quincey, no less).