Cloud hanging over unbeaten Panthers as they visit Detroit

NHL

The Florida Panthers are sailing along during the first month of the season but there’s trouble in paradise.

Florida will look to extend its season-opening winning streak to eight games when it travels to Detroit on Friday.

Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville didn’t hold his usual postgame press conference after a 4-1 win over Boston on Wednesday.

He was the head coach of Chicago in 2010 and details of a sexual abuse scandal regarding the team’s former video coach surfaced this week. Quenneville was scheduled to meet with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Thursday.

The controversy has overshadowed the sharp start by his current team. The Panthers have scored four or five goals in every game this season while holding the opponent to three or fewer since a season-opening 5-4 overtime triumph against Pittsburgh.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves against the Bruins. He has a .946 save percentage.

“The most important thing for me is to stay focused,” Bobrovsky said. “One shot a time, just keep chipping away. We have a great team.”

That team comes to Detroit brimming with confidence.

“We have four full lines, three full D pairs and two fantastic goalies,” Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad said. “We just come in waves. We’re never out of a game.”

The Panthers have used a balanced attack. They have six players with seven or more points, led by Jonathan Huberdeau (nine points). Anthony Duclair tops the club with five goals.

“We’re a full team,” Duclair said. “We’re a family.”

The Red Wings are also feeling pretty good about themselves after a 3-2 overtime victory at Washington on Wednesday. Team captain Dylan Larkin scored the game winner.

“We’ve played some good hockey, and when we’ve won, it feels like it can be repeatable,” Larkin said. “In the past couple years when we’ve won, it was a grind. It was hard, it was a war.”

Adam Erne had a goal and an assist in regulation against the Capitals.

“You can see it with some of these young guys that they’re gaining a feel for the league, and I know, personally, every year that goes by I feel a little bit better, a little more confidence,” Erne said. “You know what’s going on. You know what to expect. You’re just seeing guys confident with the puck, making plays, getting used to the league and the systems.”

Detroit is off to a 4-2-1 start after five consecutive losing seasons.

“We’ve been in situations where we found our way to wins and that breeds confidence,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “That’s part of it. We have some guys who’ve matured over the years in terms of living through some of that, and as hard as those moments are, you hope you grow and a number of guys have grown through some of the difficulties we’ve faced.”

The Red Wings also won at Chicago 6-3 on Sunday. Friday’s home game splits a three-game trip and a four-game road swing that begins in Toronto on Saturday.

“We’ve got a tough schedule coming up here, playing against good teams,” Larkin said. “It’s a great test. We’re on the road, we have found a way to get in a rhythm and it started the last game (Sunday) in Chicago. We have to keep that up, we have to keep rolling.”

–Field Level Media

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