Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Florida Panthers 3, Wild 2 (shootout); Burns, Hnidy injured

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: March 9, 2010 - 11:32 PM

Look at the bright side. The Wild's picked up points in four of its last five games.

People are so negative!

How about that display tonight by the men in green? So what did the Wild accomplish tonight?

-- Against a Florida team that allows the most shots in the NHL per game (34.0), the Wild registed 11 shots.

Through regulation, nine! So if you sat in parts of the club level tonight, you paid $10.89 per regulation shot registered by the Wild. But the Wild took two more in overtime, so that actually goes down to $8.90.

Bargain!

Let's talk records:

-- Those two shots in overtime allowed the Wild to NOT break the team record for fewest shots in a game. Instead, it only tied it with 11.

-- The 11 shots at home by the Wild breaks the team record of 13.

-- The 11 shots by the Wild were the fewest by an NHL team at home since Oct. 2006 (Atlanta vs. Tampa).

-- The 11 shots by the Wild were the fewest allowed in Florida Panthers history, which began in 1993-94. Little ironic that I got to witness it, eh? Remember, I covered Roberto Luongo set the NHL record back-to-back seasons for shots faced and saves made.

Perennially, the Panthers' defense is shameful. Yet, the Wild get 11 shots at Tomas Vokoun after scoring on two of its first three shots? Florida took 31.

Now, to be fair, there were factors. Give Florida credit. The Panthers did a commendable job clogging up the neutral zone and the middle of the D zone. They blocked 20 Wild shots, plus the Wild missed the net on eight.

The Wild also lost Shane Hnidy two shifts into his night with a leg injury, so the Wild played with five defensemen most of the night. Then when it got into penalty trouble in the second period, it really exhausted things and the Wild spent the rest of the game pinned in its own zone.

It could not generate anything close to a forecheck. When it got into the zone, the second it lost the puck, it was out.

Then things got compounded in the third period when Brent Burns hurt his hip. He missed the last 7:27 of regulation and all of overtime.

So the Wild had to play with four defensemen the final 12:27 of the game.

Regardless, the Wild's put itself in a position where it can't make any excuses, and for a team allegedly fighting for its playoff lives, there was no desperation to its game.

The Wild seemed to lose its game before the Olympic break and afterward. Its game is activating its defensemen and forechecking the heck out of the puck. It made for an entertaining style.

The Wild don't forecheck anymore. That's three games in a row, and quite frankly, its goals in Calgary were off the rush, not any semblance of forechecking or cycling. The Wild's lost, there's 17 games left and the season will be over before we know it. This could be a long final four weeks. This team lacked effort, urgency and desperation tonight.

Just a horrible display tonight against a team that was also seven out in the East.

Tidbits:

-- Mikko Koivu scored his sixth power-play goal, but first since Dec. 17. It was his 18th goal, two off his career-high. Koivu took five of the Wild's 11 shots.

-- Robbie Earl scored his sixth goal, the first in nine games since Jan. 23.

-- Nick Schultz notched his 14th assist, a new career-high. He has 15 points, one off his career-high.

-- Petr Kalus played 6:41 in his Wild debut.

-- The Wild's 7-1-2 all-time vs. Florida. This snapped a seven-game win streak and was Florida's first win vs. Minnesota since 2001. I was there.

-- The Wild's 2-0 lead after the first period was the SECOND two-goal lead after one period all season. Hence, the problem, I guess.

Wild practices in the morning. I'm sure there'll have to be at least one callup depending on the health of Hnidy and Burns. John Scott is the lone extra D on the roster.

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