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game recap

Wild rally past Panthers in fourth straight win, extend point streak

Kahkonen makes 44 saves for Minnesota, which is 7-0-3 in past 10 games

by Alain Poupart / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

Zuccarello's wrist shot goal

MIN@FLA: Zuccarello wires home wrister for equalizer

Mats Zuccarello fires a wrist shot from the right circle that beats Chris Driedger's glove side to tie the game at 2 in the 2nd period

  • 00:31 •

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Minnesota Wild won their fourth straight and extended their point streak to 10 games when they rallied for a 4-2 victory against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center on Tuesday.

Kaapo Kahkonen made 44 saves in his second NHL start, and Carson Soucy scored the go-ahead goal at 4:49 of the third period for Minnesota (13-11-4), which is 7-0-3 in its past 10 games. Jason Zucker had a goal and an assist, and Mats Zuccarello scored.

"We're just happy with the way we're playing," Zucker said. "We've just got to keep that going, keep playing the same game and try to keep it going."

 

[WATCH: All Wild vs. Panthers Highlights]

 

Kahkonen, who won his NHL debut when the Wild defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-2 on Nov. 26, came close to scoring into an empty net but his ice-length shot from his crease went just wide.

His 44 saves set a team record for a rookie goalie; Matt Hackett made 42 in a 4-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 8, 2011.

"Obviously anytime you win, that's why you play," Kahkonen said. "The feeling you have after a game in the locker room with the guys when you win, it's something that you never get tired of."

The Wild finished the game down two players; defenseman Jared Spurgeon left in the first period with an upper-body injury, and center Mikko Koivu (undisclosed) left in the third.

"It's not every day you lose two guys during the course of the game, and one early in the first period and a player of that quality too," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau, who did not have an update on either player. "Both of them are very important guys. … They sucked it up and everybody, I thought, played really well."

Chris Driedger, also making his second NHL start, made 22 saves for Florida (13-9-5), which has lost four of its past five games. Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and an assist, and Aleksander Barkov scored.

The Panthers led 2-0 after the first period and outshot the Wild 13-5.

"We just got away from the things we did in the first period," Barkov said. "Started turning over pucks, and that's the result. As a team, you've got to keep playing simple; run them down in their zone, and we didn't do that in the second and third period. We started turning over pucks, and that's the result."

Soucy broke a 2-2 tie with a backhand shot from the slot for his second goal of the season. Luke Kunin scored an empty-net goal at 18:59 for the 4-2 final.

Video: MIN@FLA: Soucy goes five-hole with backhander

Soucy, who was filling in on Minnesota's second line after Koivu couldn't finish the game, scored his first NHL game-winning goal.

"That was awesome, to come from behind and just to help get the team a win," Soucy said. "We've been doing a good job getting points lately. It's nice to contribute to that."

The Panthers took a 1-0 lead on the power play when Barkov scored for a second consecutive game at 9:54 with a high wrist shot from the left circle.

Huberdeau made it 2-0 at 14:26 with a shot from the same area.

Video: MIN@FLA: Huberdeau beats Kahkonen from the circle

"All I said [after the first period] was the game is 0-0 if we win the next two periods," Boudreau said. "If we win the second, then the third you're right where you want to be. You have to find a way to motivate them. Some nights you yell at them and some nights you try to use common sense. Today was a common sense thing, which I don't have much of."

Minnesota started its rally at 9:26 of the second period when Zucker stole the puck from Mike Hoffman inside the Wild blue line and scored on a breakaway.

The goal ended Driedger's shutout streak at 89:26.

"We just needed one chance," Zucker said. "Obviously the goalie, he's been playing well. He was playing well tonight too. We knew we wanted to just get after him a little bit, and that's what we did."

Zuccarello tied it 2-2 at 12:56 of the second with a wrist shot from the right circle.

"We just started to get sloppy at the blue line, started turning pucks over," Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar said. "We know that we can play offense, but it's just been kind of the story this year. We've been giving up too many chances, and in the second and third we did that."

 

They said it

"The character on this team is really good. When we got down, we didn't took it in stride and when we lost [Spurgeon] we took it in stride and when we lost Mikko, we took it in stride and just kept playing, and the goalie played great. When your goalie plays great, good things happen." -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau

"We've done a great job all year of getting good shots. It's been kind of the story this year is keeping it out of our net and bearing down defensively, blocking shots, getting pucks out of the slot. I think we've got a long year to improve, so I think we'll be fine." -- Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar

 

Need to know

The 10-game point streak is tied for second-longest in Wild history; they went 9-0-1 from March 8-27, 2007 and 8-0-2 from Jan. 20-Feb. 14, 2015. The team record is 13 games (12-0-1) from Dec. 2-27, 2016. … Driedger's shutout streak was the eighth-longest from the first start of a goalie's NHL career, and the longest since Michael Leighton of the Chicago Blackhawks went 91:42 without allowing a goal from Jan. 8-13, 2003.

 

What's next

Wild: At the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; SUN, FS-N, FS-WI, NHL.TV)

Panthers: Host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-F, FS-O, NHL.TV)

Video: Zucker, Kahkonen lead Wild to 4-2 victory

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