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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. Florida

Wild aims to continue winning ways Monday night when it hosts Panthers at Xcel Energy Center

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /
The essentials

Who: Florida Panthers (26-16-5) at Minnesota Wild (22-20-6)

Puck drop: 7:08 p.m. CT

Watch: FOX Sports North PLUS, FOX Sports App

Listen: KFAN FM 100.3, Wild Radio NetworkWild NHL App

Follow: @mnwild, @mnwildscribe; GameCenter

The Wild Warmup is presented by Bryant Heating and Cooling

ST. PAUL -- The Wild will need its best against a red-hot Florida Panthers team on Monday at Xcel Energy Center. The good news for Minnesota: It's coming off perhaps its best game of the season. 

In scoring a 7-0 win against the Dallas Stars to cap Hockey Day Minnesota on Saturday, the Wild matched its most lopsided victory in franchise history. The seven-goal margin was its first in five years -- Devan Dubnyk's debut in Buffalo in January of 2015 to be exact. 

That on the heels of an impressive 3-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, a victory that was much more substance than style.

Indeed, the Wild has answered the bell nicely after perhaps its ugliest loss of the season last Tuesday night in Pittsburgh, a 7-3 defeat at the hands of the Penguins that, honestly, wasn't as close as that.

"Yeah, but if you recall we lost 7-3 to Dallas in Dallas and then we lost in St. Louis 2-1 [in October] but that was the start of a climb of playing better," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "So sometimes, as much as you hate getting blown out and it's too early to say everything's going to go wonderful because it's only been two in a row for a team that needs to win more, but it's a start."

If this really is another "run" and the Wild is going to continue a push in the standings, it will need two points against the Panthers team that is heading into the All-Star break rolling themselves.

Florida has won four-straight games, with only one of those games being close. The stretch began with a 5-2 win against Vancouver followed by an 8-4 victory over Toronto. After a 4-3 nail-biter over Los Angeles, the Panthers brought their act on the road and won 4-1 in Detroit on Saturday.

That's four games, four wins and a combined 21 goals for.

Overall, Florida is 6-2 in eight games this month. But the Wild needn't look far for inspiration. Minnesota got a goal and an assist from Jason Zucker in a 4-2 win in Sunrise, Florida against the Panthers last month. Kaapo Kahkonen made 44 saves in the win. 

Statistically, the Panthers are the League's most potent offense, scoring 3.64 goals per game, just ahead of Colorado and Tampa Bay. Minnesota has defeated each of those teams in the past few weeks as well.

Jonathan Huberdeau enters the game with a team-leading 46 assists and 64 points. Evgenii Dadonov has a club-high 21 goals, but it really is a balanced effort in the goal-scoring column. Huberdeau (18), Mike Hoffman (18), Noel Acciari (17), Brett Connolly (16) and Aleksander Barkov (15) each have at least 15 goals on the season. 

Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky returned from a nine-day absence in Detroit and stopped 27 of 28 shots in the victory. He's had uncharacteristic struggles for much of the season but has been solid in each of his past two outings. On the year, he's 17-12-4 in 35 games (34 starts) with a 3.22 goals-against average and an .898 save percentage.

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