Panthers Beat Red Wings, Claim NHL's Atlantic Division Title
April 22, 2022
After a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night, the Florida Panthers officially secured the NHL's Atlantic Division title. With their 12th straight victory, the Panthers claimed the division title for the third time in the franchise's 28-year history.
“It means a lot. We put a lot of hard work into the season and locking up the division is a big accomplishment for us,” Florida’s MacKenzie Weegar said. “But there’s obviously the bigger picture here and we’ll enjoy that, locking up the division and getting the home-ice advantage for the playoffs here.
"But other than that, we're trying to build our game and have fun while we're doing it.”
The Panthers (56-15-6, 118 points) triumphed for the 10th time in a row at home. Aleksander Barkov scored his 38th goal of the season. Also scoring for the Panthers were Sam Reinhart, Noel Acciari, and MacKenzie Weegar. Reinhart rounded out the scoring in the third period with his 29th goal.
“We kind of just go game-by-game and I’m happy we’re racking up the wins here,” Weegar said. “We’re a great team and it’s obviously shown all year.”
A pair of assists from Jonathan Huberdeau evened him with Edmonton's Connor McDavid for the league lead in points.
“We're taking care of business," Acciari said.
Detroit's Lucas Raymond got his stick on the puck on a rush that halted in front of Nedeljkovic with 21 seconds remaining in the first period, while Marchment was credited for his 17th goal.
Sam Gagner and Tyler Bertuzzi scored for the Red Wings, while Alex Nedeljkovic made 22 saves.
When Bertuzzi's shot from the right circle went past Bobrovsky, the Red Wings were three goals behind the Panthers, but Weegar's poke goal from the slot put the Panthers up four goals.
Even after Bertuzzi's goal, Florida was able to maintain its lead by feeding Weegar for his eighth goal at 16:05 of the third period to make it 4-2 in favor of the Panthers.
As soon as the Red Wings had taken the lead on Gagner's wrist shot at 4:08, Acciari knotted the game at 1-1 at 9:19 to bring the game to a stalemate.
In the dying seconds of the game, Barkov scored a power-play goal to give the Panthers a 2-1 advantage. With 21 seconds remaining, Marchment's shot deflected off a defender and went into the net, bringing the score to 3-1.
“I thought we got a little physical in the second and we seemed to get a little momentum and kind of took over the hockey game,” Florida interim coach Andrew Brunette said.
“Our focus hasn’t been on anything other than doing the right things and that will start again on Saturday and that’s kind of been a tribute to the guys. I think we’ve been able to do that all season long.”
“They have this many points for a reason,” Detroit coach Jeff Blashill said of the Panthers. “Overall, we were in the position to win the hockey game. We’ve just got to find a way. One or two less mistakes and make sure to capitalize on our chances.”
“They seemingly can create offense out of nothing,” Gagner said. “You feel like you’re playing well against them, they create odd man breaks and their defensive finds guys up-ice open. Ultimately they found a way to break through.”
This season, the Panthers and St. Louis Blues are the only teams that have not been shut out.