LBC GameDay Preview: Florida Panthers at Minnesota Wild

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers pay a visit to the Wild in Minnesota tonight, trying to string together a season high two-game winning streak. Will the return of Jesse Winchester be the key for the Panthers?

Tonight, the Panthers will visit the Minnesota Wild in XCel Energy Center in Saint Paul, MN for the second of two meetings this season. The Panthers had lost nine in a row before breaking the streak at home against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, 3-2. Tonight marks the first game of a five-game road trip, with matches to follow against the Colorado Avalanche tomorrow, the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, and the Calgary Flames next Friday.

The Wild will be playing in the second game of a three-game homestand. They defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, 2-1 in a shootout on Wednesday and finish up on Sunday against the Winnipeg Jets.

These two clubs last threw down on October 18th, when the 2-6 Panthers hosted the 3-3-2 Wild. After a scoreless first period, Tim Thomas allowed his only marker of the game to Jonas Brodin (3) on the power play. Dany Heatley and Mikael Granlund posted assists on the play. Florida evened the score at one when super-rookie Aleksander Barkov scored his third of the season with assists from Tomas Fleischmann and Brian Campbell, also on the power play. After a scoreless extra frame, Thomas stoned Zach Parise, Jonathan Huberdeau beat Josh Harding, Mikko Koivu was unsuccessful in the second round, and Brad Boyes put it away for Florida's only shootout win thus far. Thomas ended up with 30 saves, Harding with 21. * Full Recap * Box Score

Thomas spoke later about his performance in the shootout:

I haven't been in a shootout in a really long time. I didn't really think about that until just now. Even in Boston, we had a lot of tight games and a lot of games that went to shootouts and stuff. It's something I'm relatively familiar with. I think the big thing tonight was our level, our work. We worked and we had second efforts. If we got the puck stripped from us, we worked hard to get it back. Just basically our level of work was ultimately what ended up leading us to the win.

For more about the Wild, go to Hockey Wilderness.

In Florida's last game, the Panthers surprised a strong Anaheim Ducks team with a 3-2 victory. Andrew Cogliano (6) and Hampus Lindholm (2) scored on Thomas in the first period, but it was all he would give up on the night. Florida drew even with two goals 70 seconds apart in the second, by Shawn Matthias (2) and Scottie Upshall (3). Upshall added an assist later on the game winner, a tap in by Brad Boyes (6). Thomas stopped a total of 32 shots on the night. Ducks netminder Frederik Andersen suffered his first career NHL loss after six straight wins, allowing all three scores on 25 shots. * Full Recap * Box Score

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Ducks @ Panthers Highlights 11/12/13 (via NHL)

Upshall was glib afterward:

Good teams don't lose 10 in a row, right? We really just wanted to come out and work hard and be back in our building and play well. We've got a good group of guys in here. We all know that. We just had a rough start to the season. Hopefully, [we] use this as a confidence builder.

For more on Anaheim, check out Anaheim Calling.

Minnesota's last game would see the Wild held scoreless by Toronto through the first 55 minutes of the contest before scoring their only goal, by Zach Parise (9) to knot the game at one. Parise, along with Jason Pominville, potted markers in the shootout, beating Jonathan Bernier despite his 33 saves on the night. Mason Raymond (6) had Toronto's only goal against the Wild's Josh Harding, who came on in relief after Leafs defenseman Nazem Kadri ran over starter Niklas Backstrom with 10 minutes gone in the first. Harding stopped 19-of-20 for the victory. Full Recap * Box Score

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Maple Leafs @ Wild Highlights 11/13/13 (via NHL)

Wild coach Mike Yeo spoke afterward about Kadri's collision with Backstrom, which looked on purpose to me:

Obviously, you're never a fan of that. The League's done a good job of addressing those things, so we'll just leave it at that.

Go to Pension Plan Puppets if you'd like to read about Toronto.

Game Time: 8:00 PM ET

Broadcast: FS-F, FS-N, FS-WI

All-Time Series:
Florida is 4-7-1-2 against the Wild, for a 39.3% point acquisition rate.

Season Series: Second of two meetings. Florida is 1-0-0, Minnesota is 0-0-1.

Standings


Florida Panthers: 4-11-4, .316, 12 points, on pace for 52 points. Seventh in the Atlantic Division, 15th in the Eastern Conference, 28th in the NHL. Last Five: O-L-L-L-W.

Minnesota Wild: 11-4-4, .684, 26 points, on pace for 112 points. Third in the Central Division, sixth in the Western Conference, tied for sixth in the NHL. Last Five: W-W-O-W-W.

Birthdays: Longtime Devil goaltender Chris Terreri (151-172-43, .892, 3.07) turns 49 today.

Florida is 5-0-1-1 on November 15th's throughout their history, one of their best daily records.

1996 - Panthers 3, Islanders 3, OT
1997 - Panthers 1, Islanders 0
2000 - Panthers 4, Hurricanes 1
2003 - Panthers 3, Penguins 2
2005 - Canadiens 4, Panthers 3, OT
2007 - Panthers 2, Capitals 1
2011 - Panthers 6, Stars 0

Starting Lineups


Panthers

Forwards


Defensemen


Goaltenders


Wild

Forwards


Defensemen


Goaltenders

Panthers Leaders

Goals: Brad Boyes - 6, Marcel Goc - 5, Aleksander Barkov, Jesse Winchester - 4
Assists: Tomas Fleischmann - 9, Brian Campbell - 8, Jonathan Huberdeau - 6
Points: Tomas Fleischmann - 12, Brian Campbell - 10, Jonathan Huberdeau - 9
Faceoffs: Marcel Goc (183-for-345) - 53.0%, Nick Bjugstad (84-for-159) - 52.8%, Aleksander Barkov (120-for-258) - 46.5%
Shots-on-Goal: Tomas Fleischmann - 47, Tomas Kopecky - 43
Hits: Erik Gudbranson - 47, Mike Weaver - 46, Shawn Matthias - 35
Blocked Shots: Mike Weaver - 44, Erik Gudbranson - 33, Tom Gilbert - 31

Thanks for reading your LBC game preview. Tonight's match starts at 8PM, so check back here at 7:30 for a little pre-game banter. Hockey Wilderness has your Wild. Just remember though, it's all in good fun until someone loses a kidney.

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