Panthers 3, Wild 2, SO

After one period, the Minnesota Wild appeared to be on the way
to another easy win over the Florida Panthers.

Then they turned in one of the worst offensive performances in
franchise history.

Cory Stillman scored the winning shootout goal and the Panthers
held the Wild to a franchise-tying low 11 shots in a 3-2 win on
Tuesday night.

The Wild also tied a season low for shots by a home team in the
NHL. Minnesota set its team record when it managed only 11 shots on
Jan. 23, 2004, at Anaheim.

“They controlled play the whole night,” Wild defenseman Nick
Schultz said. “It’s frustrating. It’s desperation time this time
of year and we came up short.”

The Wild’s previous low for shots on goal at home was 13 against
Vancouver on Oct. 14, 2005.

The Panthers rebounded from an early 2-0 deficit and held a 31-9
shots advantage after regulation. It was Florida’s third straight
win and first over Minnesota since Feb. 7, 2001.

“On one side their goalie was standing on his head,” Stillman
said. “We continued to get pucks at the net. Get people to the
net, and good things are going to happen.”

Niklas Backstrom stopped 29 shots for the Wild.

Michael Frolik and Stillman scored for the Panthers to tie the
game in the third. It was Frolik’s fourth goal in three games and
Stillman’s fifth point in his last four.

“We played a good game, and I thought we deserved two points,”
Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. “It was a good team effort. We
stuck to our system and stuck to our game plan, kept grinding away
even though we weren’t getting rewarded for it. We finally got a
couple.”

Minnesota had won the previous seven games over Florida,
outscoring the Panthers 30-11.

Frolik knew that if they could sneak one shot past Backstrom,
that streak might end.

“We said in the room, ‘The first one is going to be the key.
When we score the first one we can go forward and they can go
back.’ That’s what they did,” Frolik said.

Mikko Koivu and Robbie Earl scored first-period goals for the
Wild, who found the back of the net twice on their first three
shots.

The Wild were stuck on seven shots for about 12 minutes during
the second and third periods. When Koivu managed to register the
team’s eighth shot, the crowd broke into a sarcastic cheer.

Despite Minnesota’s lack of shots, coach Todd Richards felt his
team played hard.

“I’ll have to watch the tape, but my first impression is that
Florida just did a good job,” he said. “We were chasing them all
night. Our best opportunities came in overtime.”

Minnesota managed more shots on goal during the four-round
shootout than it did in the second period.

Both teams entered the game eight points out of the final
playoff spot in their respective conferences and long shots to
reach the postseason.

“We’ve got to go out and win ourselves. It’s in our control,”
said Stillman. “We can’t count on anyone else to help us. This is
a road trip where we need to get five out of six, if not six out of
six points.”

The Panthers’ earned their third road victory in 11 games and
first since Jan. 14. Florida will play its next two games at
Colorado and San Jose.

NOTES: Minnesota defensemen Brent Burns (hip) left the game in
the third period. Shane Hnidy (leg) was forced out in the first.
… Wild RW Cal Clutterbuck missed the game because of a left leg
injury sustained Sunday during Minnesota’s loss to Calgary. Petr
Kalus was called up from AHL Houston and made his Wild debut in
Clutterbuck’s place. … Panthers D Keith Ballard, a Minnesota
native, left Monday’s practice due to a sore groin but played
Tuesday. … Columbus also totaled only 11 shots at home against
Los Angeles on March 8.