Wings lose fifth player to injuries and game to Florida
With four key players missing due to injuries, the Red Wings lost a fifth before losing to the Florida Panthers, 2-1, at Little Caesars Arena Saturday.
After going through the pre-game warm-ups, Andreas Athanasiou was a last-minute scratch with what was announced as an upper-body injury.
And so Detroit, already minus Darren Helm, Anthony Mantha, Danny DeKeyser and Mike Green with long-term injuries, was able to beat veteran goalie Roberto Luongo, who made 33 saves, only once.
“He’s obviously a dynamic player, so it’s tough anytime you lose a guy like that,” Justin Abdelkader said of Athanasiou. “I thought Megs” – Wade Megan, who replaced Athanasiou in the lineup – “came in and played really well. And it gives other guys opportunities to play more minutes. I thought they played well, too.”
Coach Jeff Blashill does not know if Athanasiou will be able to play Sunday against the Maple Leafs in Toronto (7:30 p.m.). It will be the Red Wings’ last game before Christmas.
“He had an upper body (injury) from the other day (4-1 win in Carolina on Thursday) that I anticipated him playing coming into the rink today. I think he thought he was going to play yesterday,” Blashill said. “Then we got here today, and it didn’t feel as good and he wasn’t able to go … I don’t have any idea beyond that he couldn’t play tonight. Whether he’ll have the chance to play tomorrow. I would call him questionable.”
Thomas Vanek scored Detroit’s only goal. It came exactly halfway through the second period and was the game’s final goal. It was Vanek’s fifth goal.
“I thought we had enough opportunities to win the game,” Blashill said. “We got to score.”
Jimmy Howard made 21 saves in his first game back after being a last-minute scratch with back spasms before Tuesday night’s loss in Philadelphia.
The Panthers scored both their goals in the first period.
Mike Hoffman made it 1-0 with a power-play goal 3:09 into the game, only nine seconds after Dennis Cholowski went off for holding. Evgenii Dadonov made it 2-0 with 2:39 left in the first period.
Panthers leading scorer Jonathan Huberdeau and captain Aleksander Barkov each assisted on both goals. It was Huberdeau’s 11th multi-point game in his last 14 – he has five goals and 25 points in that span. Barkov has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his last four games.
Dylan Larkin’s nine-game point streak (5-7-12) came to an end. He was originally credited with the only assist on Vanek’s goal. But the assist was taken away, given back and, finally, taken away for keeps by official scorers.
Thomas Vanek is congratulated by Niklas Kronwell and Dylan Larkin after scoring Detroit’s only goal.