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Crushing loss provides Wild with one more challenge before break

Worthy of at least a point, Florida scores in final seconds of regulation to steal two at Xcel Energy Center

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

ST. PAUL -- For a team in desperate need of any points it can get, Monday night's final result against the Florida Panthers is an absolute aorta smasher.

The Wild trailed by a goal early in the third period, scored twice in a span of three minutes to take a one-goal lead, only to see it evaporate in the final 4:08 of regulation.

Florida, which had never won in regulation at Xcel Energy Center, scored the winning goal with just 5.8 seconds remaining on the clock in a crushing 5-4 loss for the Wild.

"Pretty disheartening," said Wild forward Zach Parise. "From getting ourselves back into the driver's seat and feeling like a few more shifts and we had to close it out to not getting a point out of it, that's a tough one right now where we are. That's a tough one to take."

Adding to the frustration was the fact that Minnesota deserved a far better fate than it got. 

Playing against the NHL's best offense, the Wild limited the Panthers to 25 shots on goal, outshot Florida 33-25 for the game, and scored a shorthanded goal to go with two power play goals.

Nine times out of 10, that's a recipe for certain success. 

"When you get those things you're supposed to win," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "The tightness of the race, those are the games that really you look back at."

Video: Bruce Boudreau postgame vs Florida

Minnesota clawed back from a trio of one-goal deficits, once in each period.

Keith Yandle got the Panthers on the board four minutes in, but Jared Spurgeon answered with the Wild's first power-play goal of the evening in the final minute of the period.

Video: FLA@MIN: Spurgeon cleans up the mess for a PPG

In the second, Aleksander Barkov made it 2-1 before Luke Kunin buried a Joel Eriksson Ek pass for his second career shorthanded goal 3 1/2 minutes later. 

Video: FLA@MIN: Kunin scores SHG on a one touch shot

In the third, Evgenii Dadonov scored a power-play goal at 2:02 to give Florida a 3-2 lead before Parise tied it a third time with his fifth goal in his past four games and 19th of the season. 

Video: FLA@MIN: Parise beats Bobrovsky five-hole for PPG

Kunin's second of the night, a beauty of a passing play between Marcus Foligno and Eriksson Ek set up Kunin for a rocket from the slot with 12:54 in regulation. 

Video: FLA@MIN: Kunin pots his second goal of the game

"I think you tend to try to play safer, especially at that time of the game when you're up," Parise said. "Sometimes it allows them to break out a little easier when you just try to sit back."

This time, it was Florida which would rally when Vincent Trocheck scored through Alex Stalock's five hole with just over four minutes remaining in regulation. 

It was one Stalock said he wishes he had back. 

"Probably a different game," Stalock said. "Yeah, tough bounce. Shoot. Starts with giving up a soft fourth goal."

Video: Locker room postgame vs Florida

In the final 30 seconds, the Wild could just never get on the attack. Florida entered the zone with 16 seconds left on a play that was inches away from being offsides. Eventually, the puck would work its way back to the left point where Aaron Ekblad would send a shot towards the net.

Noel Acciari was standing near the hashes with Wild defenseman Ryan Suter glued to his backside trying to adjust the position of Acciari's stick above his shoulders. 

The puck hit off his elevated stick and rolled into the net past a stunned Stalock. Officials reviewed for a potential high stick but ruled the play legal. 

"If they would've called [the game-winner] no goal on the ice, they wouldn't have [overturned] it either," Boudreau said. "It depends on what angle you look at. It's just a crazy goal."

Crazy or not, good game or not, the result was disheartening for a Wild team no longer interested in moral victories. 

With one game remaining before an 11-day layoff for the bye All-Star break then the team's bye week, it was an absolutely heartbreaking result. But it's one Boudreau won't let linger.

"Obviously this one stings," Boudreau said. "We have 24 hours to get over it and then go back at it." 

"I think right now, we needed the win. We needed the win," Parise said. "That's the only thing we should be looking for right now is how can we get wins. And it didn't happen."


Postgame Hat Trick: Panthers 5, Wild 4

Video: MIN Recap: Kunin scores twice in 5-4 loss to Panthers

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