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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Final thoughts on Wild's win over Florida; Wild may delve into goalie market

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: November 15, 2013 - 11:29 PM

Wild survived a ginormous scare tonight when the Florida Panthers rallied from a 2-0 deficit with a pair of goals 5 ½ minutes apart by the 8 ½ minute-mark of the third period.

But one shift after Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise, Charlie Coyle, Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin were on the ice for the Jonathan Huberdeau equalizer, the same exact fivesome was on the ice to set up the winner by Coyle, who one-upped his former Saint John teammate (Huberdeau).

Koivu redeemed himself for a giveaway on the tying goal by setting up Coyle’s third career winner with 8:22 left.

The Wild improved to 9-1-2 in its past 12 overall and 6-0-1 in November. It has won five in a row at home and nine of its last 10 at the X.

Good evening from high above the being-boarded-up rink.

Read the gamer for all the details and quotes and also give my game notebook a read here. With Niklas Backstrom sidelined with a concussion, if it looks like he will be out long-term, GM Chuck Fletcher told me he will look at adding a goaltender to provide depth and help Josh Harding.

The Wild is two games into a stretch of 17 games in 30 nights. In each of the next four weeks, the Wild has a back-to-back set and in five of the next six.

Harding is 11-2-2, has given up 19 goals in 16 games, hasn’t lost in regulation since Oct. 17 (8-0-2 since) and is 9-0 at home. He’s been outstanding. But he will need to be spelled during this stretch, so the Wild may need to get a goalie.

Read the story, but one option could be free agent … Jose Theodore. It may never get to that point though because Backstrom told goalie coach Bob Mason he is feeling better. So we will see.

Tonight, the Wild got off to a great start, dictated play, was on its toes, jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Parise and Jason Pominville before the tide turned in the second. You could sense it coming. The Panthers tightened up and Yeo had no problem for the Wild “going for the throat,” but he didn’t like the way the Wild was playing with the puck and the team just made life more difficult on itself.

Finally the momentum shifted and Tomas Kopecky and Huberdeau scored.

Call it a lesson learned to a feisty Panthers team that has played quite well since the coaching change last week. It’s the first time all season the Wild has blown a two-goal lead. Yeo felt the Wild fell into the trap after a well-executed first that the rest of the night would be easy.

It wasn’t.

Like I said, please read the gamer for the details, but a couple things I didn’t get into:

-- The first line of Koivu, Parise and Coyle were solid all night. The Panthers were in the Wild’s face in the neutral zone and at the offensive blue line the last two periods. That was the one line that continually popped pucks behind Florida’s defense and went to work

-- Mikael Granlund continues to play well. He’s now getting more and more penalty kill time. Tonight the PK went 3 for 3.

“He’s earned it with the way he’s played 5-on-5,” Yeo said, adding that Granlund’s smart, detailed and obviously has speed and a good stick.”

-- Jared Spurgeon continues to play terrifically. Solid defensively, tonight had an assist, three hits, two blocks.

-- Brodin had a very tough night with the puck and it’s been a lot since he has been back. He told me in Washington he’d have to wear the bubble for another two or three weeks to protect his broken cheekbone. I asked Yeo after the game how long it would be until the bubble comes off (it’s clear it’s affecting his puck play), and Yeo said with a big smile, “I don’t know, but I plan to ask tomorrow.”

I’d say Yeo agrees with my assessment.

-- Pominville leads the team with 12 goals and now has 9 goals and 13 points in the last 11 games. He had his 118th multi-point game.

-- Koivu had two assists for his 94th multi-point game.

-- Parise has 10 goals and has 6 goals and 12 points in his last 11.

The Wild is having a very giant optional practice tomorrow, so optional in fact that I’ve been pretty much told there’s no reason to attend. So unless there’s news, no blog.

Enjoy your Saturday and talk to you Sunday.

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