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Recap: Vatrano powers Panthers to 5-4 win over Wild

Cats offense carries the day against Minnesota

Minnesota Wild v Florida Panthers Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

Frank Vatrano delivered his best performance of the season thus far, scoring twice and adding an assist as the Florida Panthers remained perfect at home with a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild.

Vatrano drew the seconday assist, Arron Ekblad had the well-earned primary, on Owen Tippett’s game-opening goal with 2:15 left in the first period, and then The Tank struck twice in the second period to give the Panthers leads of 2-0 at 8:23, from Joe Thornton and Radko Gudas, and 3-1 at 14:50, from Gustav Forsling.

Sandwiched in-between Vatrano’s fifth and sixth goals was Joel Erikkson Ek’s power-play marker.

A wild (pun intended) third period saw the teams trade five goals with Kirill Kaprizov, Marcus Foligno and Ryan Hartman scoring for Minnesota and Carter Verhaeghe (on an unreal invidual effort) and Sam Bennett lighting the lamp for the Panthers. Bennett’s empty-netter with 37 ticks left on the clock turned out to be the game-winner after Hartman’s goal at 19:51.

It was Vatrano first multi-goal and multi-point effort of the season, After putting up just one goal and one assist in October, Vatrano has collected five goals and an assist in November.

Sergei Bobrovsky delivered another quality start and finished with 35 saves and Ekblad added a second assist in third period, combing with MacKenzie Weegar on Verhaeghe’s spectacular goal. Jonathan Huberdeau drew the lone helper on Bennett’s marker. Huberdeau had a shorthanded goal wiped out for being offsides,

After going 0-2-2 on a four-game road trip, the Cats have reeled off three straight wins on home ice and have now collected at least a point in five straight games. With the victory over the Wild, the Panthers are 3-0 against the Western Conference and gained two points on second place Toronto and third place Tampa Bay, who both lost in regulation last night. Things got a little dicey towards the end, they but gave up two goals with Cam Talbot off for an extra attacker, but the Florida held on to get two points in a game they were never behind in. The Cats will get three days off before closing the homestand on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Spiders & Snakes

  • The Panthers have won ten straight games at home to start the season. That’s tied for the second-longest such streak (with Montreal and Ottawa 1.0) in NHL history. Florida can match the league record of 11, set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.
  • Joe Thornton’s first assist as a Panther allowed him to tie Paul Coffey for 13th on the NHL points list with 1,531. Frank Vatrano became the 120th player to score with an assist by Thornton, the most among active NHL players.
  • In addition to their goals, Joel Erikkson Ek and Kirill Kaprizov each had an assist. Mats Zuccarello, Frederick Gaudreau, Alex Goligoski and Victor Rask also collected helpers for the Wild.
  • Sergei Bobrovsky (8-0-2) became the second goalie in Florida history with a 10-game point streak, joining franchise legend Roberto Luongo (9-0-1 in 2015-16).
  • Cam Talbot stopped 32 of 36 shots for the Wild.
  • For more on the game take trek through the Hockey Wilderness.

Video Recap (coutesy of NHL.com)