The Detroit Red Wings seem to have found a sort of home away from home in the Sunshine State.
One night after the Red Wings played to a 6-2 victory against a surprisingly friendly crowd in Tampa Bay, they scratched out a 4-3 victory against the Florida Panthers, a game which also featured a strong contingent of Red Wings fans present in the crowd.
Detroit started the scoring early, with Todd Bertuzzi beating Thomas Vokoun at just 1:21 of the first, Bertuzzi's first of two goals for the night. Daniel Cleary made it 2-0 at 6:29 of the first, on a shot he knocked past Vokoun despite lying on the ice. Radek Dvorak of the Panthers scored late in the first to cut the lead to 2-1.
In the second, Pavel Datsyuk tallied an unassisted goal at 3:29 for his 17th of the season, but Florida's Dennis Wideman scored at 19:43 on a power play goal to make it 3-2, after two periods of play.
Stephen Weiss tied the game at 9:36, but Bertuzzi's second goal just three minutes later wound up being the eventual game winner. Detroit was able to hold on to the lead despite a strong push from Florida late, emptying their net to gain an extra attacker.
The friendliness of the crowd was evident in the sheer number of Red Wings jerseys present (myself included). Red Wings Hall of Famer Gordie Howe was on hand to drop the ceremonial first puck, as well. In a situation similar to Tampa Bay, a fan threw an octopus onto the ice in the second period, resulting in play stoppage and the fan getting ejected from the arena. A second cephalopod hit the ice near the end of the third.
Henrik Zetterberg had two assists on the night, and Pavel Datsyuk had an assist as well as his goal. Joey Macdonald made 29 saves in his first start since February 3.