Wild pull away late in 7-4 win over Panthers

Cats finish homestand with ugly 0-3 record

The revamped lines provided the Florida Panthers with some much-needed offense, but the club couldn’t take care of the other end of the ice in a crushing 7-4 loss to the Minnesota Wild at the BB&T Center.

Minnesota got off to a fast start and took the lead 7:50 into the action when Jason Zucker tipped Jonas Brodin’s shot off James Reimer’s shoulder and in. Mikael Granlund drew the second assist on Zucker’s 21st goal.

The Panthers tilted the ice and struck back for two goals in a 3:49 span later in the period to jump ahead.

Jonathan Marchessault hit the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career with the assists going to Keith Yandle and Aleksander Barkov at 14:22. While on a power play, Marchessault unloaded a one-timer that Darcy Kuemper stopped, only to see the rebound go in off defenseman Ryan Suter.

Vincent Trocheck found Mark Pyskyk all alone with a drop pass and the rangy defender cruised into the slot and beat Kuemper with a wrist shot at 18:11. Jonathan Huberdeau earned the second assist by rushing the puck up ice and dishing to Trocheck at the blue line.

The second period saw the Wild turn the tables reel off two quick goals off their won to regain the lead.

Eric Staal got loose in front and took a centering feed from Nino Niederreiter to finish off a nice give-and-go at 8:07 after the Cats failed to get out of their zone.

Jason Pominville knocked a rebound into the top of net 2:01 later to cap off a flurry chances for his 11th of the season. The assists on the goal went Martin Hanzal and Zach Parise, who were denied by Reimer before Jason increased the population of Pominville by one.

Jaromir Jagr evened the tilt 1:01 after the Pominville goal when he rounded the net and surprised Keumper with a quick shot from the just below the faceoff circle. Trocheck and Hubderdeau picked up their second helpers of the night on Jagr’s 13th of the campaign.

After the Wild replaced Kuemper with Devan Dubnyk to start the third, the Panthers went back on top 2:57 into the final frame thanks to a fortuitous bounce off the new goalie’s stick.

Pysyk dumped the puck behind the Minnesota net and Dubnyk’s failed attempt to cut it off sent the rubber disk right in front to Barkov, who deposited it into the vacated net.

The Cats held the lead for just 2:27 when Staal took care of that by notching his second with a chip in of the rebound of Marco Scandella’s backhander. Charlie Coyle was also credited with an assist on the play.

Minnesota’s go-ahead goal came with 5:07 remaining in regulation. Reimer stopped Pominville’s deflection of Brodin’s point shot, but couldn’t keep the puck to his body and Parise was able to drill it home when it fell right in front of the cage.

Grandlund added an empty-net goal, from Zucker and Matt Dumba, at 18:50 and Coyle completed the scoring with another, from Staal, with three ticks left on the clock.

Florida finished its three-game homestand with an 0-3 record and remained six points behind the New York Islanders for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers get right back at it tonight in Tampa Bay, needing to stop the bleeding and take two points from its cross-state rival.

Spiders & Snakes

  • The Panthers have now won just once in their last eight games in Sunrise, dropping their record at the BB&T Center to a lousy 15-16-3.in Sunrise.
  • Hats off to Jonathan Marchessault for hitting 20-goals for the first time, but the forward was on the ice for six of Minnesota’s seven goals. A minus-six rating? Yikes!
  • Devan Dubnyk got the win, finishing with 11 saves on 12 shots in his 20 minutes of action. Darcy Kuemper stopped 25 of 28 before being pulled and James Reimer finished with 39 saves.
  • The Panthers penalty kill was a perfect (again) 3-for-3. The Cats have gone 12-straight games without surrendering a power-play goal, extending the franchise reciord.
  • Recent Wild acquisition Martin Hanzal’s helper on Jason Pominville’s goal was the 200th assist of his NHL career. Hanzal is still looking for his first goal in a Minnesota uniform.
  • Jared Spurgeon didn’t get any points, but led all skaters with six shots and added three blocks and two hits.
  • With his 762nd tally, Jaromir Jagr is now 40 goals from passing Gordie Howe for second all-time in NHL history.
  • Hockey Wilderness has the other side of the Wild’s season sweep of the Panthers./