NHL: Panthers celebrate Aleksander Barkov’s return by blasting Wings

Captain Aleksander Barkov tallied one assist as he returned from a six-game absence to help the Florida Panthers defeat the Detroit Red Wings 5-1 on Thursday night in Sunrise, Fla.

Detroit had its four-game road winning streak snapped.

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Barkov, who reportedly suffered from pneumonia, had the primary assist on a goal by Eetu Luostarinen. The Panthers also got goals from Chris Tierney, Josh Mahura, Matt Kiersted and Matthew Tkachuk.

Tierney’s goal was his first with the Panthers.

Sergei Bobrovsky, relegated lately to reserve status behind second-year goalie Spencer Knight, made 19 saves to earn his first win since Nov. 15. Knight missed Thursday’s game due to a non-COVID illness.

The Red Wings got a goal from Jonatan Berggren and 36 saves from backup goalie Alex Nedeljkovic, who hasn’t won a game since Nov. 6.

This was Florida’s first game back home since a 2-2-1 road trip. The Panthers improved to 7-2-3 at home this season. They are 6-8-1 on the road.

Detroit has lost seven straight games to Florida. The Red Wings haven’t beaten the Panthers since Feb. 20, 2021, and they have just two points in their past seven games against Florida.

The Panthers opened the scoring with 1:55 left in the first as Detroit got caught in a bad line change. Tierney got free and beat Nedeljkovic with a backhander that went five-hole.

Florida outshot Detroit 19-10 in the second period. By the end of those 20 minutes, the Panthers led 5-1.

Luostarinen, on a drop pass from Barkov, and Mahura, on a rebound, scored just 58 seconds apart to give Florida a 3-0 lead.

After Florida’s Gustav Forsling was penalized for tripping Austin Czarnik, Berggren scored on a rebound in the final second of a power play.

That cut Florida’s lead to 3-1, but the Panthers had another flurry — two goals in 45 seconds — to stretch their advantage to 5-1.

First, Kiersted scored on a rebound. Then, Tkachuk scored the goal of the night. While on the rush, Tkachuk did some nifty stickhandling before roofing his shot above Nedeljkovic’s blocker.

–Field Level Media

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