The Minnesota Wild couldn’t hold their 2-1 lead for the final 20 minutes and allowed the Florida Panthers to score three times. The 4-2 loss was the third in the past three games for the Wild.
So, how does a team with a lead give up a trio of goals in the final period?
“Well, we made a couple of mistakes, and they put it in,” said head coach Bruce Boudreau. “Then you’re fighting from behind, chasing the game.
“It’s a blown game.”
It marks just the second loss in regulation for the Wild (18-14-3) this season when leading after two periods (9-2-2). The Wild have their most goals scored in the third period (43) but they’ve allowed the most as well – 47 goals given to opponents in the final 20 minutes.
After the game, Boudreau seemed less than pleased with the idea that his team gave away another two points based on their third-period play.
It’s frustrating, he said.
“How many times have I sat here and talked about us being tied in the last 10 minutes of a game and then not getting anything out of it on the road?” Boudreau said.
The Panthers (14-16-5) tied the game just two minutes into the third period on a pretty toe-drag goal from Jonathan Huberdeau. The game-winner came at 11:14 of the period when Connor Brickley scored after the Wild had trouble clearing the zone. They got caught standing around. Matt Cullen, playing in his 1,400th NHL game, made a weak clearing attempt in front of the net that kept the puck in the Panthers cycle.
The Wild pulled Stalock with 2:44 left in the game trying to tie it up, but they had trouble getting clean zone entries and generating chances. A turnover in the neutral zone led to Huberdeau’s empty-netter for his second of the game.
Things started off alright for the Wild, as they had 1-0 and 2-1 leads. Ryan Suter snapped home a one-timer for his fifth goal of the season at 8:09 of the first period on the power play. Matt Dumba and Mikael Granlund were credited with the assists.
Vincent Trocheck tied the game later in the period to keep it a tie game at the first intermission.
Daniel Winnik scored his third goal of the season with some good, old-fashioned hard work in his drive to the front of the net. He reached out and tapped in his own rebound for the unassisted goal halfway through the game. Unfortunately for the Wild, the offensive production ended there.
Goaltender Alex Stalock was screened on the first goal and didn’t get much help from his defense on the others. More notably, he was also run into twice by opposing players. With 1:49 left in the second, Evgenii Dadonov went to the box for goaltender interference. But in the third, Jared McCann absolutely steamrolled Stalock and play went on.
Boudreau said after the game that he did not get an explanation as to why there was no penalty the second time.
Perhaps a bigger concern than the loss was the absence of Nino Niederreiter for most of the game. He was seen after the game in a walking boot. He did not play the second or third periods, and Boudreau did not have an update on him after the game.
Stalock (6-6-1) with 30 saves. James Reimer (8-9-4) with 29 saves.
The Panthers outscored the Wild 3-0 in the third period and outshot them 13-9. The Panthers outshot the Wild 34-31 for the game.
The loss was just the fourth in regulation all-time for the Wild against the Panthers.
The Wild received more power-play chances than their opponent, going 1-for-5 with the man advantage while the penalty kill was a perfect 3-for-3.
Chris Stewart got a 5-for-fighting penalty when going off the faceoff with Michael Haley near the end of the first period.
The Wild finish up their four-game road trip with their final game before the holiday break Saturday night in Tampa against the Lightning.
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