Niederreiter line leads the way as Wild rout Panthers 5-1
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The move by Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau to put Charlie Coyle at center between Zach Parise and Nino Niederreiter is paying off.
Niederreiter scored twice, Ryan Suter had three assists and Devan Dubnyk finished with 30 saves as the Wild defeated the Florida Panthers 5-1 on Thursday night.
Eric Staal, Zach Parise and Jonas Brodin also scored for Minnesota, which was coming off a 7-1 win over Montreal on Tuesday. Niederreiter added an assist and has four goals in the last three games.
With captain Mikko Koivu injured and the Wild having lost five of six games, Boudreau had to make a move.
"Sometimes you just mix it up and out comes something good," Boudreau said of the line's instant production. "I don't know. I think Charlie skates much more in the center than he does on the wings. He's tireless, so I think that's a positive thing. Nino's getting his confidence and Zach is playing well."
The line combined for three goals against Montreal, and the three were on the ice for four of the five goals Thursday in their second game together.
Niederreiter, who opened the season without a goal in 14 games and had just three through 28 games, scored for the third straight contest as the Wild erased another early deficit.
"Nino and Charlie are playing really, really well right now and it's a fun line to be on," Parise said. "We're having fun. They're buzzing. We're moving our feet. We're talking all the time and we're getting the results right now."
Denis Malgin scored his second goal of the season for Florida. James Reimer stopped 21 shots for the Panthers, who are winless in their last four games.
"Disappointing loss," Florida coach Bob Boughner said. "Especially the last 10, 15 minutes even when your down, the message is play to the buzzer and play with pride. I thought some guys did and I didn't think some guys did."
Malgin scored 2:20 into the game on a rebound that Dubnyk kicked wide and the Panthers outshot Minnesota 13-8 in the first.
Niederreiter scored off a pass from Suter, tying the game before the first intermission. Niederreiter then crashed the net and tipped a shot by Suter past Reimer midway through the second for his sixth goal of the season.
"I think for me, personally, probably confidence is obviously a big thing," Niederreiter said. "Staying on one side for quite some time for now, that's definitely helped my game a lot."
Staal scored his 12th of the season on a nifty pass through the defense by Mikael Granlund. Minnesota scored twice in the first 3:51 of the third, with Parise scoring his 15th and Brodin his fourth of the season.
Florida has allowed five goals in three of its last four games.
"We can talk about how good we can be and keep positive, and you need to keep positive, but at the end of the day, you need to be realistic too, and you're only as good as you play," Reimer said. "Unfortunately, right now our losses are coming a little too often, but it's just a test of our character."
Koivu has skated with the team, but he missed his third game with a lower-body injury. ... F Anthony Greco was recalled by Florida from Springfield of the American Hockey League and made his NHL debut. Greco had 12 goals in 24 games for Springfield. ... Wild opponents have scored first in 21 of the team's 31 games this season. Minnesota is 11-9-1 in those games. ... Florida is one of two NHL teams (Vegas) that has not earned a regulation win at Minnesota's Xcel Energy Center. The Wild are 10-0-1 at home against the Panthers, their longest active home point streak against any team. ... Granlund's assist was his 300th career point. He ranks sixth in scoring in team history.
Panthers: Home against Toronto on Saturday.
Wild: Host Calgary on Saturday.