After exploding for six goals in their last game against Anaheim, the Florida Panthers could only light the lamp once in a tough 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energyl Center. The Cats came up empty on the man-advantage three times in the third period to finish 0-for-5 on the power play.
Recently acquired goaltender Devan Dubnyk stopped 26 shots to raise his, and the surging Wild's, record to 7-0-1 since the All-Star break.
Minnesota opened the scoring at 4:12 of the first period. Jason Pominville dented the twine after a sweet cross-ice feed from Mikko Koivu found his skate and ricocheted past a helpless Roberto Luongo. Ryan Suter drew the secondary helper on the Eden Prairie resident's twelfth marker. The goal population in Pominviille has now increased in three straight games.
Florida fired 11 shots on Dubnyk during the stanza, but the 28-year-old who came over from the Arizona Coyotes in a mid-January trade, was equal to the task.
The Wild went up by two at the 6:52 mark of the second period on Zach Parise's power-play tally. Parise outworked Dmitry Kulikov in front to punch home a Thomas Vanek rebound for his twenty-second goal of the campaign. Dave Bolland set the stage for the score by cross-checking Wild defenseman Matt Dumba.
Midway through the period, hometown boy Nick Bjugstad finally got the Cats on the board. Bjugstad roofed the puck on Dubnyk from an extreme angle to cap off the pinpoint passing of Jussi Jokinen and Jimmy Hayes. The goal was Bjugstad's team-leading nineteenth while Jokinen notched his team-best twenty-fourth assist.
The final frame saw the Wild hold the Panthers to just eight shots on goal as the Cats failed to cash in on Suter's double-minor early in the period and again late in regulation with Nino Niederreiter in the box for tripping and Luongo on the bench for an extra-attacker.
The loss kept the Panthers four points behind the idle Boston Bruins in the playoff chase. The Cats get right back at it tonight in Dallas, with the first of two meetings against the Stars this season.
Odds & Sods
- The Wild have now earned points in nine straight games and are 9-1-2 in their last 12 outings.
- Roberto Luongo delivered another quality start, finishing with 21 stops, but the lack of goal support tagged the vet with his fourteenth regulation loss of 2014-15.
- Both clubs entered the game with 59 points and four out of a playoff spot. Minnesota pulled within two of the Calgary Flames with the victory.
- The Panthers dropped to 1-5-1-1 all-time when visiting the Wild. Florida has never won in regulation at Xcel Energy Center.
- In addition to his goal, Nick Bjugstad led the Cats with five shots and added two hits to his stat line.
- Mikko Koivu drew helpers on both Wild goals to push his assist total to 25.
- Last night's fourth-line wingers, Shawn Thornton and Scottie Upshall, failed to generate a shot on goal. Expect to see Tomas Kopecky back in the lineup tonight.
- Journey through the Hockey Wilderness for more on Florida's defensive battle with Minnesota.