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Panthers Wrap-Up: Wild 3, Panthers 2

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers

1 2 3 OT T
Panthers 0 0 2 0 2
Wild 2 0 1 0 3
FLA - T. Kopecky (1), J. Huberdeau (4)
MIN - PP - Z. Parise (10), J. Pominville (12), C. Coyle (2)

ST PAUL, MIN —  ( - Charlie Coyle's goal with 8:22 remaining in regulation enabled the Minnesota Wild to survive a third-period letdown and escape with a 3-2 victory against the Florida Panthers on Friday night.

First-period goals by Zach Parise and Jason Pominville put the Wild up 2-0 after 20 minutes and seemingly on their way to an easy victory. But after a scoreless second period, the Panthers came out rolling in the third, getting goals by Tomas Kopecky and Jonathan Huberdeau less than six minutes apart to knot the game at 2-2.

"It seems like there's the same pitcher coming back over and over again so this is a project for us to get over that mental part of the game…We fight our way back into the game. We've done that before. We've seen that happen again…I think our guys feel like something bad is going to happen. We're pushing that, we're talking about it, we're trying to get that out of the system."

- Panthers forward Scottie Upshall.
1. Wild's Top Line: If one was just turning on the game midway through the game, the score would have looked a lot like Tuesday's affair as for the second straight game, Florida fell behind 2-0 after 20 minutes of play. An early power play gave Minnesota a quick strike as Zach Parise redirected Mikko Koivu's pass past Tim Thomas on a fly-by just 4:59 into the game. The home team, who owned the opening 20 minutes in outshooting Florida 10-3 in the frame, took a two goal advantage before the teams went to the locker rooms when Jason Pominville scored on the one-timer on the cross-ice pass from Jared Spurgeon on the rush with 6:22 remaining. Just like Anaheim, Florida found themselves in a hole.

2. Tying It Up. Again: The Cats play picked up immensely in the second as they would outshoot the Wild 9-5 and held play in the offensive zone for a considerable amount of time but couldn't find a way to beat Josh Harding. On Tuesday, Florida struck twice in the second to tie it up. Friday night it was the third as a couple of Panthers broke goal scoring droughts. First it was Tomas Kopecky netting his first of the year off the feed from Jesse Winchester 3:31 into the period. Then thanks to great work by Nick Bjugstad, they tied it up with 8:59 gone. On the rush, the big center took out both of Minnesota's defensemen, leaving Jonathan Huberdeau to follow behind, pick up the loose puck and fire it by Harding to tie the game.

3. Unfortunate End: That's where the week's games' similarities ended. Tuesday it was Florida with the third period winner. On Friday it was Minnesota. Florida failed to clear the zone and Koivu set up Charlie Coyle who was stationed outside the crease for the eventual game-winner with 8:22 remaining. Florida had their chances as they would outshoot Minnesota 12-5 and had several big opportunities including another couple of chances by Kopecky and Winchester. Harding had a 1.21 goals against average heading into the game and to score a third against the netminder was a tall task as he shut the door the rest of the way, thwarting the Panthers great effort in the last two periods of play.  
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@jaysonross33:@FlaPanthers at least we finish strong #PantherPride keep it up you'll get back to the W

@JavierN976jb: @FlaPanthers Good team effort. Team getting much better

@YoungLeezy_407: Can the panthers please get a W...please #FlaPanthers #sad

@WilderMatt: @JavierN976jb @FlaPanthers I agree, better team tonight. And tommrow we have the new kid, high hopes tommrow, we need a "W"

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Sandi Keller: Playing better!

Gary Smith: If we play like we do in the third all game we should be golden

Susan Miller Cross: Give the new coach a chance............the team has improved is some areas and they should have played the first period stronger.

Jay Brandt: Looking better, it'll come together soon. GO CATS

Kyle Pehlke: Good effort but never enough. 60 mins.

1. The weight of what seemed like the world had to be lifted off of forward Tomas Kopecky's shoulders as numerous attempts throughout the first 19 games of the season, he finally netted his first goal in game number 20. His drought stretched for 28 games, dating back to April 6 against Washington.

2. For the second straight game, the Panthers found themselves down by two first period goals by their opponent yet fought back to score the next two games and tie the game.

4. A couple of four's on the night for the Cats. Coming off a three game suspension and sitting on a three-game point streak, Winchester set up Kopecky's goal, recording a point in four straight games. While it doesn't count officially as a four-game point streak due to the suspension, the forward still has been an offensive producer for the Cats. Following up on Nick Bjugstad's rush, Jonathan Huberdeau also ended a goal-scoring drought, netting his fourth of the season and first since Nashville on October 15 (12 games).

10. Minnesota outshot Florida 10-3 in the opening period but the Panthers defense clamped down the rest of the way as they allowed just 10 shots in the final forty minutes of play.

87. Center Marcel Goc had a fantastic night in the face-off circle as he lost just two of his draws. He finished winning 13 of them or good enough for 87%. The only other Panther to have a winning face-off percentage was Winchester who won three of his five face-offs.

Mikko Koivu
Led all forwards in ice time and beautifully set up the Wild's first goal to Parise on the power play and game-winner in the third.

2 Assists, 2 Points,  1 Shot, 20:45 TOI
Florida is right back at it with another game Saturday night. They travel to Colorado to take on a strong Avalanche team who have gotten off to a great start this season after finishing with the NHL's second worst record a season ago. Led by new bench boss and goaltending great Patrick Roy, Colorado sits second in the Central division just two points back of the Blackhawks with a 14-4-0 record but lost their last game to St Louis by a 7-3 final. They're led offensively by forwards Matt Duchene (20 points in 18 games), Paul Stastny (15 points in 18 games) and captain Gabriel Landeskog (15 points in 17 games) while Semyon Varlamov has a 9-4-0 record with a 2.13 GAA and .932 save percentage and Jean-Sebastien Giguere is perfect at 5-0-0 with a 1.73 GAA and .947 save percentage between the pipes. This will be the first meeting between the 2013 NHL Draft's top two picks as Nathan MacKinnon (12 points in 18 games) faces off against Florida's Aleksander Barkov (eight points in 19 games).

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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