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Photo Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

WN Postgame: Ultimate Fighter at LCA, again

The Red Wings came into Monday as losers of eight of their last nine games and with just three games left on their home stand.

They were hosting a Florida Panthers team that has not been playing much better, losing four of their previous five games and sitting three games under .500 (11-14-4) 29 games into the season.

This game looked like it was going to be high scoring with Jimmy Howard and James Reimer going head-to-head. In each of their previous five starts, Howard and Reimer allowed a combined 39 goals on 315 shots (.876 SV%).

First Period

Just like early last week against the Jets, the Red Wings were looking to shake off a big Saturday loss and get back in the win column.

This game got off to a relatively slow start with each team failing to score on early power-play opportunities. At the Red Wings morning skate it looked like they were going to go with the same lineup as Saturday, but in warmups head coach Jeff Blashill decided to get pugilist Luke Witkowski back into the lineup after serving his 10-game suspension. Tyler Bertuzzi, who made his season debut on Saturday, served as the healthy scratch up front as Blashill went with 11 forwards and seven defenseman.

It didn’t take long for Witkowski to make his presence felt as he and Michael Haley dropped the mitts midway through the first frame.

The first period was moving along at a great pace with each goaltender making a couple nice stops. Late in the first period, Henrik Zetterberg streaked down the middle of the ice and had his initial shot blocked by Michael Matheson but got the second attempt through Reimer to score his first goal in 23 games—the longest drought of his NHL career.

Zetterberg’s fifth of the season gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead heading into the intermission.

Second Period

Detroit entered the second after a pretty even and fast-paced first period looking to extend their lead.

Midway through the period there was no scoring to speak of, but the Red Wings had the majority of the chances with most of them coming off of Dylan Larkin’s stick. Despite not having any more goals, there was another scrap as Witkowski and Haley went at it again following a Witkowski hit on Colton Sceviour.

Right after the fight Nick Bjugstad had a glorious opportunity at one end but missed the net and Larkin went back the other way and did the exact same thing. A few minutes later, another pair of gloves hit the ice as Luke Glendening and Aaron Ekblad initiated the third fight in 30 minutes of hockey. Glendening looked like a skilled fighter, landing a number of huge shots on Ekblad.

That had to be scary for Panthers fans to watch as their young franchise defenseman has dealt with concussion issues in his young career.

It’s pretty rare to see more fights than goals in a hockey game in 2017 but that’s what we had going on tonight. It had the look of UFC 218 that was at Little Caesars Arena earlier in the month.

The second finished the same way it started with the Red Wings clinging to a 1-0 lead. Shots were 23-18 for Detroit at the end of the frame.

Third Period

The third started with much of the same with both teams trading chances evenly. Detroit was unable to cash on a power-play five minutes into the period.

10 minutes in, the Red Wings were still up 1-0 until Vincent Trocheck tied it up on the doorstep.

Howard and Reimer continued to stand tall through the remainder of the third period and this one went to overtime—the second time in two games the Red Wings and Panthers needed extra time.

Overtime

Why tell you what happened when you can just watch it.

It was unfortunate because the Red Wings really did play a good game. After a long shift with a ton of changes from Andreas Athanasiou and Anthony Mantha, Athanasiou turned the puck over to Michael Matheson and that led to the chaos and eventually the game winning goal.

Motor City MVP

The player of the game has to be Larkin. He looked excellent again. Larkin was held off of the scoresheet but he recorded five shots in 18:46 TOI and played great in all three zones. Plus, he did it all on “D-Boss” Bobblehead night. What could be better than a “D-Boss” bobblehead, honestly?

Photo via: mlive.com

What’s Next?

The Red Wings are back in action on Wednesday against the visiting Boston Bruins. Boston will be well rested having not played since this past Saturday and come to Detroit having won eight of their past 10 games.