The Florida Panthers road woes continued as Charlie Coyle scored to break a 2-2 with 8:22 remaining in the game to give the Minnesota Wild their ninth win in the last eleven games. The Cats have not won away from the BB&T Center since beating the Dallas Stars on opening night.
The Panthers' unending pattern of bad starts was in full force again last night as the club fell behind 2-0 in the first period, forcing them to stage another late rally which ultimately came up short.
Brad Boyes took a needless roughing penalty at 4:19, setting the stage for Zach Parise's power-play goal forty seconds later. The Wild's crisp passing easily slashed through the Cats' box formation with Jason Pominville finding an open Mikko Koivu, who threaded the needle to Parise in front for the easy goal.
Boyes almost redeemed himself later in the period, but hit the post on an open chance alone in front of the Minnesota cage.
A streaking Pominville would beat Tim Thomas with a nice deflection for his twelfth goal of the campaign at the 13:38 mark to extend Minnesota's lead. Jared Spurgeon and Nino Niederreiter collected the helpers on the pretty even-strength goal.
The Wild and goaltender Josh Harding aren't at all easy to score on, so for a long spell, it seemed like both teams accepted that a Minnesota win was inevitable.
To their credit, the Panthers rose up in the third period to forge an unlikely tie.
Tomas Kopecky finally scored his first goal of the season at 3:31 of the final frame. Jesse Winchester, who returned from a three-game suspension, stripped Jonas Brodin in front and picked up the assist by feeding an open Kopecky to again provide a spark for the Cats.
Just over five minutes later, Nick Bjugstad continued his recent strong play by bulling his way into the Minnesota zone, which led to Jonathan Huberdeau's game-tying marker. The puck came loose from Bjugstad and Huberdeau picked it up and fired it by Harding to even the affair. The goal ended a twelve-game drought for last year's Calder Trophy winner.
Both Bjugstad and Huberdeau are heating up, which is good sign for the club going forward. Bjugstad has four points in his last five games, and has been the Panthers' best skater since Peter Horachek took over the coaching reins. Huberdeau now has points in five of his last seven outings.
Unfortunately, the Wild shook off the Florida surge to claim two points. Coyle got inside position on defender Mike Mottau, right in front of goaltender Thomas, and poked home a nice pass from Koivu to provide the winning margin.
Harding stopped 22 shots to raise his home record to a perfect 9-0. Thomas made 17 saves for the Panthers and was tagged with his sixth loss of the season.
For a different perspective on last night's doings check out Hockey Wilderness, make sure to bring a coat.
For better or worse, the 4-12-4 Cats get right back at it with a game tonight in Denver versus the 14-4-0 Colorado Avalanche.
You can keep it right here all day, as LBC has five questions with Cheryl Bradley of Mile High Hockey coming at noon, your game preview at 3 p.m., and a super fun night on the GameThread starting at 8:30.