The Minnesota Wild were dominant in the faceoff dot and mustered up 31 shots, but a 3-goal effort in the 3rd period by the Florida Panthers send the Wild away with a 4-2 loss in Miami. The Wild had more than a few moments to shine in this game, but James Reimer stopped 29 of 31 shots and was a wall in the 3rd period stopping all 13 shots he faced.
Matt Dumba continued to shine on the blue line for the Wild, notching an assist with 2 shots on goal in just over 27 minutes on the ice tonight. He was moving well off the puck which was really nice to see from the young Wild defender. Mikko Koivu played a great game as well despite getting tossed from the dot a lot. Daniel Winnik snapped his seemingly endless goalless drought tonight and Ryan Suter started the scoring for the Wild with a PP tally.
The first period was riddled with penalties, with 4 between the 2 teams. In the first 12 minutes of the game, nearly 8 minutes of it one team or another was playing short handed. Suter made the Panthers pay for one of their short handed stretches with a rocket shot from the blue line that glanced off Reimer and found the twine.
Vincent Trocheck would knot the teams back up at a goal a peice later in the period when he flipped a wrist shot from along the wall through a bunch of a traffic and the puck found its way past Alex Stalock. The period would come to a close with the teams locked in 1-1.
Winnik would get his 3rd goal of the season in the 2nd period with a big effort play, driving in on goal with Alexander Petrovic hanging all over him. His initial shot went off Reimer’s big leg pillow but Winnik was able to get his stick on the loose puck in the crease to tap it home and give the Wild a 2-1 lead. Winnik’s pressure along the wall near center ice led to his driving the net play and unassisted goal.
The Wild would not be able to solve Reimer for the rest of the game, and with 3 goals from the Panthers in the 3rd including 2 goals from Jonathan Huberdeau (one ENG) cinched things up for the Panthers. Connor Brickley would score in the 3rd as well after Matt Cullen was unable to clear a loose puck out front. The Panthers seized the opportunity when Brickley found a loose puck in front of Stalock and was able to flip the puck into the net, giving the Panthers the lead for good.
Try as they might, the Wild were just not able to solve Reimer in the 3rd period, and let a 1-goal lead turn into a 2-goal loss in the final frame. Stalock was run in tonight’s contest, twice even. Evgenii Dadonov dropped Stalock first and was promptly escorted to the box for 2 minutes, but when Stalock was checked behind his goal in the 3rd period the Wild were not awarded a power play for that which has a lot of people scratching their heads. A lot of goaltender interference penalties have been called for much less and it’s frustrating to fans to just not get that consistency on a no-brainer call.
Nonetheless, you have to play the game and roll with the punches. Not getting that PP cannot be a valid excuse, and the Wild need to be able to overcome bad officiating. The missed call could have been a game changer, sure. You cannot depend on special team goals though. You should be able to score at even strength and the Wild know this. They need to play better when the chips are down and tonight they were just not able to elevate their game and maintain a lead or even claw back into this one.
Enough of that little soapbox moment. Next up for the Wild, they stay in Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday. Tampa is the best team in the NHL right now, amassing 52 points in 34 games on the season. Not your ideal opponent for the 2nd game in a back-to-back road series. The Bolts are coming off a 4-3 shootout victory over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday, so they will be well rested and ready to go. Hope the Wild get to bed early tonight.
Think you could write a story like this? Hockey Wilderness wants you to develop your voice, find an audience, and we'll pay you to do it. Just fill out this form.