Two for Huberdeau as Panthers tame Wild, 4-2
Cats follow up Coyotes comeback with another against Minnesota
The Florida Panthers opened its four-game, holiday homestand in fine fashion, scoring three times in the third period to erase a one-goal deficit and defeat the Minnesota Wild by a 4-2 count.
Minnesota opened the scoring eight minutes into the first when Ryan Suter’s blast from the point deflected off Derek MacKenzie and flew past James Reimer. Matt Dumba and Mikkael Granlund picked up the assists on the goal that came with Aaron Ekblad off for interference.
Vincent Trocheck knotted the score at 16:53 with his team-leading 14th goal. Trocheck took a drop pass from Alex Petrovic and sent a wrister through traffic from the rights boards that eluded Alex Stalock. Denis Malgin drew the secondary assist with a nice cross to Petrovic.
Daniel Winnik put the Wild back on top 10:34 into the second period on a fine individual effort. After taking the puck from Petrovic at center ice, Winnik used one-hand to fend off the defenseman and eventually tap his own rebound between Reimer’s pads for his third of the season.
Jonathan Hubderdeau countered with a pretty goal to tie the score two minutes into the final frame. Huberdeau took a pass from Aleksander Barkov and streaked up ice before toe-dragging his way around Nate Prosser and slipping a low backhand by Stalock.
Florida forged ahead when Connor Brickley, subbing in for late scratch Jame McGinn, went to the net and banged in Keith Yandle’s turnaround shot rebound at the 11:14 mark after some sustained pressure from the Panthers.
The Huberdeau - Barkov combination clicked again to clinch the game with six seconds remaining. Barkov stole the puck from Jonas Brodin at center and sent Huberdeau away for an easy empty-netter.
After coming back in the third to topple the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday, the Panthers rallied again in the final twenty to best a much-better Wild outfit. James Reimer made his eighth consecutive start (4-3-1) and turned aside 29 shots to post his eighth win. The Cats have now won two-straight games for the fourth time this season and will shoot for that elusive first three-game winning streak tonight against the Ottawa Senators.
Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)
Spiders & Snakes
- Jonathan Huberdeau’s game-tying goal snapped a five-game drought. Huberdeau entered the tilt with just one goal is his last ten outings.
- Connor Brickley’s game-winning marker was his third goal of the campaign and first since October 21, when he lit the lamp against the Washington Capitals.
- Ryan Suter’s goal ended Florida’s run of 25-straight penalty kills. The last time the Cats surrendered a power-play goal was to Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler on December 7.
- Aaron Ekblad didn’t register a point, but he did lead all skaters with 29:43 TOI and had a game-high eight shots on goal, twice as many as any of his teammates.
- Former Panther Matt Cullen became the fourth active player and fourth born in the United States to play in 1,400 NHL games.
- Alex Stalock made 30 stops and saw his record drop to 6-6-1.
- Struggling veteran Radim Vrbata was the only Panther to finish with a minus rating. Vrbata also failed to register a shot in his 9:05 of ice time.
- Trudge through Hockey Wilderness for the other side of the first meeting between the two clubs, who will open 2018 against each other in chilly St. Paul./