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Cats Drop 4-2 Decision to Wild

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Goldie's post-game recap:

The Panthers drop a tough one in icy Minnesota as the Wild get 2 power play goals in the 3rd for a 4-2 win. The Cats were down 3-0 midway through the 3rd and seemed to be mounting a big comeback. Nathan Horton set up Martin Gelinas to get the Panthers on the board and 2:23 later Horton scored himself to make it 3-2. But a few minutes later a questionable slashing call on Chris Gratton gave the Wild a man advantage and they cashed in to in effect put the game away.

Florida dominated the opening 10 minutes firing the game's first 11 shots on goal. Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom stood tall until the Wild got their game going. The Panthers wound up with 43 shots on goal, scoring twice. Minnesota won the special teams battle going 2-3 on the power play while the Cats went 0 for 4.

The Panthers come home to play Phoenix on Saturday at the BankAtlantic Center at 7:30pm.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Goldie's 2nd intermission glog:

A pair of rebound goals and strong goaltending has Minnesota up 2-0 here in St. Paul. After a scoreless 1st period the Wild scored early in the 2nd on Mark Parrish's 15th of the season. The Panthers had plenty of chances, firing 14 shots on goal, but could not beat Niklas Backstrom. With 6 minutes to go the Wild worked the puck free deep in the Cats' zone and Todd White banged home a rebound for the 2nd goal.

Panthers are outshooting Minnesota 26-22 through 2 periods but trail 2-0 going to the 3rd. It's a big mountain to climb but the Cats need to keep the pressure on and perhaps get the defense involved in the offense. The Wild is 14-1 leading after 2 periods.

Goldie's 1st intermission blog:

Strong start again for the Panthers getting the 1st 11 shots on goal. Best chance came from Martion Gelinas who hit the post. After David Booth was called for holding at 13:42 the Wild got their game going but Ed Belfour came up big.
So we are scoreless after the 1st with the shots in favor of the Panthers 12-11.

Cats are playing a strong game and need to stay consistant throughout the rest of the game. Good 1st period for Kamil Kreps, called up today, with Jozef Stumpel out with a shoulder injury. Juraj Kolnik is also out after taking high stick
Tuesday night at Colorado.

Goldie's blog:

You want cold? I'll give you cold! It is minus 11 this morning in St. Paul, Minnesota. No worries though. It is going up to 6 degrees later today!

The Panthers are here to take on the hometown Wild. Minnesota is hockey crazy from the high school level right up to the Wild. It will be a tough game tonight against a sound, disciplined team led by Coach Jacques Lemaire. The Panthers Jacques Martin has to juggle his line-up again with Juraj Kolnik out and Jozef Stumpel questionable with injuries. Ed Belfour will be in net again tonight.

The Cats played well Tuesday in Colorado but were unable to hold a 3rd period lead and lost in overtime. The team had an upbeat practice yesterday followed by a meeting in which the intensity level for 60 minutes was discussed. When a team has a lead late in a game the opponent does not give up. It plays more desperate. It's up to the team with the lead to match that desperation and play even harder. The concept is something the Panthers failed to execute Tuesday and at other times this season. They have played well enough to win many nights but have let points slip away.

A win tonight would be big as the Cats come home for Saturday's game against Wayne Gretzky's Coyotes. Games are running short and the Panthers need to start doing some winning! Radio airtime tonight on QAM is 7:30.

Game Preview:

The Florida Panthers will wrap up a two-game road trip tonight @ the Minnesota Wild.

The Panthers (20-24-11) lost in Colorado Tuesday. Florida was up 4-2 after two periods against the Avs but allowed the final three goals, including Joe Sakic's score 25 seconds into overtime, after Paul Stastny got the equalizer for the Avalanche on a power play with just 37 seconds left in regulation.

Statsny's goal came on Colorado's seventh power-play opportunity and helped make Florida's Ed Belfour the hard-luck loser. The veteran stopped 36 shots.

"Eddie gave us a chance," said Panthers center Chris Gratton, who had a goal and two assists. "He made the big saves, but you can't expect him to do it when you are a man or two men short."

Florida gave up two power-play goals against the Avs and has allowed at least one in each of its last four games, surrendering six in 25 chances in that span.

Belfour is 4-1-0 with a tie and a 2.41 GAA in six starts against Minnesota, while backup Alex Auld is 4-0-1 with a 1.18 GAA in five starts against the Wild.

Auld, though, was pulled after allowing four goals on 17 shots in a 7-0 home loss to Los Angeles on Saturday.

Florida's loss to Colorado dropped it to 6-14-8 away from home. The Panthers have the fewest road wins in the NHL.

The Panthers' Olli Jokinen ended a season-high six-game goal drought Tuesday, but the center has had problems on the road this season. He has six goals and 14 assists in 28 road games, compared to 17 goals and 18 assists in 27 home contests.

The Minnesota Wild just completed a season high-tying five-game road trip with a winning record.

Minnesota (29-22-4) is 18-5-3 at home, but had lost four straight there before beating Calgary 2-1 in a shootout Jan. 26. The Wild then hit the road, and sandwiched three wins between a pair of losses.

The trip did not end on a positive note, as the Wild blew a 2-0 first-period lead to Dallas and fell 4-2 on Tuesday. The Stars scored two power-play goals as they rallied to prevent Minnesota from extending its season-best road winning streak to four.

"We didn't deserve any points," defenseman Wes Walz said. "But even as bad as we played, we were in the game with a chance to pull a point out of here with one (penalty) kill."

Rookie goaltender Niklas Backstrom, starting in place of the injured Manny Fernandez, gave up a season high in goals Tuesday. Backstrom, though, is 4-0-2 with a 0.92 goals-against average at home this season.

Minnesota hopes Brian Rolston, the team leader with 25 goals and 46 points, can return Thursday from a one-game absence due to stomach flu.

The Wild have won four straight meetings with the Panthers and lead the series 4-1-0 with one tie. The teams have not met since Oct. 24, 2003.
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