Skip to main content


Wild-Panthers Preview @NHL

Though the Minnesota Wild cut ties with several key players during the offseason, they don't appear to be missing them much so far.

With their revamped lineup, the unbeaten Wild will try to beat the Florida Panthers for the seventh straight time on Thursday night.

Minnesota (2-0-0) hasn't lost to Florida since February 2001, outscoring the Panthers 24-9 during that run.

The Wild won their first five games last season en route to winning the Northwest Division, the first such title in the franchise's eight-year history. But coming into 2008-09, the Wild made significant roster changes as they traded Brian Rolston, waived Mark Parrish and watched Pavol Demitra sign a free-agent deal with division rival Vancouver. The trio combined for 62 goals and 81 assists last season.

To replace that production, Minnesota signed among others Antti Miettinen, who finished with career highs in goals (15) and points (34) with Dallas, and brought back Andrew Brunette, who had 19 goals and 40 assists for Colorado last season.

Those moves appear to be paying off early as Miettinen scored two goals and assisted on another, while Brunette added a goal an assist to lift the Wild to a 4-2 win over Atlanta on Tuesday. The duo lead the team with four points apiece.

"(Miettinen's) in the right spot at the right time," said Brunette, who played with Minnesota from 2001-04. "He's a hard player. He has good instincts."

While Minnesota signed Miettinen and Brunette to multi-year deals, the team has yet to offer franchise scoring leader Marian Gaborik a contract extension. Now in his eighth season, the 26-year-old right wing has tallied 207 goals and 208 assists.

He notched his first goal of the season on Tuesday, and has just one goal and three assists in seven career games versus the Panthers.

Minnesota's Pierre-Marc Bouchard (back) and Owen Nolan (lower body) are day-to-day. The Wild, though, will be without Marek Zidlicky after the defenseman was placed on injured reserve (right ankle) on Wednesday.

Florida (1-1-0) enters this contest looking for back-to-back home wins for the first time since taking four straight to open 2006. David Booth scored his second goal of the game 1:06 into overtime in a 3-2 win over Atlanta on Saturday, giving first-year coach Peter DeBoer his first win.

Booth, now in his third NHL season, has three goals and an assist so far this season to lead the Panthers. He had 22 goals and 40 points in 73 games in 2007-08.

"He's playing unbelievable," said goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who made 31 saves. "He works really hard on and off the ice and it's starting to pay off for him. Every good thing that happens, he definitely deserves because he puts in the time."

Vokoun is 6-5-3 with a 2.26 goals-against average and two shutouts in his career against Minnesota.

Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom, meanwhile, has won both career starts versus Florida, stopping 73 of 77 shots.

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.