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WGD: GAME 40: RED WINGS VS. PANTHERS

After 91 days and 38 games the Red Wings finally have their first three-game winning streak of the 2017-18 season.

The Red Wings were able to up-end the coldest team in the NHL in overtime on Wednesday on the back of Andreas Athanasiou. The man so many fans refer to as “AA” or “Double-A” was frequently double-shifted on the second and fourth lines and picked up two-goals on seven shots in 19:38 TOI to give Detroit a 2-1 OT win. Many fans have been clamouring for Athanasiou to get more ice-time because he’s often buried on the Red Wings depth chart. Recently head coach Jeff Blashill has given in (mostly due to Anthony Mantha being out of the lineup) and Athanasiou has averaged 20:46 TOI/GM in his last three contests. All “AA” has done with that ice-time is core three goals with 15 shots, 11 scoring chances and eight high-danger scoring chances.

Tonight, the Red Wings welcome the Florida Panthers, who escaped the snow-pounded east coast after last night’s game in Boston was postponed.

THE RED WINGS

Detroit Red Wings lines via DailyFaceoff

The Red Wings are expected to trot out 11 forwards and seven defensemen again tonight. Henrik Zetterberg missed the morning skate but Blashill says he expects the captain to be good-to-go tonight. After a win, no line changes will be made, which means Mantha will once again start on the fourth line. However, with seven defensemen, it’s more like a second or third line because he won’t have Luke Glendening in the middle but rather Athanasiou and Dylan Larkin will take twirls there. Mantha was limited to just 12:51 TOI on Wednesday so expect similar usage tonight, but he managed to collect and assist and three shots, which is nice production from a “fourth liner.”

THE PANTHERS

Florida Panthers lines via DailyFaceoff

The Panthers come in in the middle of what was supposed to be a five-game road trip, but is only four because of last night’s cancellation. The first game of the trip they were up-ended by the Minnesota Wild 5-1, snapping a five-game winning streak for the cats.

Tonight will be the third of four meetings between the Panthers and Red Wings and the first two went to extra time. Detroit won the first in a shootout and Florida won the second in 3-on-3.

Overall, it has been a low-scoring season series so far and the Red Wings have done their best to keep the Panthers big guns in check. Florida will have Evgeni Dadonov back in the lineup this time around and he had two points (1G / 1A) in the first meeting. His linemates Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau have combined for three assists in the first two meetings.

Vincent Trocheck is always a threat against the Red Wings as well. He has one goal and one assist vs. Detroit this year, bringing his career total to 12 points (7G / 5A) in 13 games.

BETWEEN THE PIPES

Jimmy Howard will once again get the call for the Red Wings. Howard has been the better goalie all season and is riding a personal three-game winning streak, having stopped 107 of the last 111 shots (.964 SV%) that he has faced. Howard is 1-0-1 with a 1.89 GAA and .947 SV% against Florida this season.

The Red Wings may have seen backup Harri Sateri had the Panthers played last night, but with the postponement, James Reimer is expected to get the call for his 14th consecutive start. Reimer has played very well since Roberto Luongo went down with an injury and has stood tall against the Red Wings this season, going 1-0-1 with a 1.42 GAA and .959 SV%.

HOW TO WATCH

Puck-drop between the Red Wings and Panthers is at 7:30 p.m. ET at Little Caesars Arena. It can be seen in the United States on Fox Sports Detroit or Fox Sports Florida.

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