Preview: Wild at Panthers
The Minnesota Wild and Florida Panthers had Tuesday nights that were fairly similar — slow starting road games that culminated in game-winning rallies after a timely goal in the second period.
The Wild (18-13-3) trailed the Ottawa Senators 3-1 in the second period before scoring five consecutive goals and taking total control of the game in Canada’s capital.
Chris Stewart, Mikko Koivu, Nate Prosser, Jonas Brodin and Eric Staal all beat Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson over a 26-minute span to help lift the Wild to a 6-4 victory and break a two-game skid.
Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said he was especially pleased for Koivu on his fifth goal and first since Oct. 28, which tied it 3-3 with 55 seconds left in the second period.
The team captain redirected a long shot from the point by defenseman Ryan Suter from a few feet in front of Anderson to even the game and give the Wild momentum entering the final period.
Boudreau said Koivu’s body language revealed his relief.
“I was happy that some guys that hadn’t been having too much luck finally scored goals,” Boudreau said to the media. “(On) Mikko’s goal you could see like the air coming out of a balloon.”
Wild backup goalie Alex Stalock improved to 3-2-0, allowing 11 goals, in place of injured starter Devan Dubnyk, who has been out since hurting his knee against Calgary on Dec. 12.
Dubnyk rejoined the club and returned to the ice on Thursday. He could play against the Panthers on Friday or the next night at Tampa Bay.
Florida, which had its own No. 1 goalie problem with Roberto Luongo sidelined, ended a five-game road trip with a 3-2 win over Arizona, using a late second-period goal to turn the tide while trailing 2-0 against the Coyotes.
The Panthers (13-16-5) started out well on the road, earning three points in the first two games with an overtime win in Detroit and an overtime loss in Chicago before dropping games against Colorado and Vegas.
Against the NHL-worst Coyotes, Nick Bjugstad scored his ninth goal with 10 seconds left in the period, Denis Malgin knotted it 2-2 with his fifth marker early in the third and Michael Matheson provided the game-winner while having a penalty committed against him with 14:19 remaining.
The win ended the trip on a good note for Florida and stopped a three-game losing streak that had started to consume the team, prompting a players-only meeting at Tuesday’s morning skate.
Florida coach Bob Boughner said the team was energized in the final period after Bjugstad’s wrister from the left circle finally put the Panthers on the board.
“That goal sort of turned it around. We knew we were in the game,” Boughner told the media.
Florida played faster and more aggressively, outshooting the Coyotes 12-9 in the final 20 minutes.
Arizona held a 32-14 advantage over the first two periods.
“The third period looked like the Florida Panthers’ identity. That’s our style of play, playing fast and hard,” Boughner said.