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Postgame: Wild's late-game collapse overshadows positives in Panthers loss

Luke Kunin had a strong offensive performance.

Zach Parise continued his hot streak around the net.

And special teams delivered three goals.

But the Wild struggled to embrace those positives in the aftermath of a crushing 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Panthers Monday night at Xcel Energy Center, a result that wasn’t confirmed until the final seconds.

 

 

“Right now, we needed the win,” Parise said. “We needed the win. That’s the only thing we should be looking for right now is how can we get wins. And it didn’t happen.”

Before the latter part of the third, the Wild was in a neck-and-neck battle with one of the NHL’s better outfits of late and had actually pried the lead away from the Panthers on Kunin’s second goal of the night 7 minutes, 6 seconds into the third period.

A defensive breakdown by Greg Pateryn and a “soft” goal, as goalie Alex Stalock described it, tied the game at 4 with just 4:08 remaining in the third.

After that, the action seemed destined for extra time but Florida nixed that script when Noel Acciari’s stick deflected in a puck at 19:54 – a head-scratching sequence considering Acciari was tied up by defenseman Ryan Suter, who literally had a grip on Acciari’s stick.

“It should've definitely been in overtime,” Boudreau said. “But they shouldn't have got the fourth goal either.”

Not getting any points out of the game hurt the Wild, which is still seven points back of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. But what also hurt was the fact the finish upstaged what the team did well against the Panthers.

-Kunin had a memorable evening, scoring twice for his second career multi-goal game.

“He’s been good for a few games now,” Boudreau said. “He’s got his legs.”

-Parise tallied his team-leading 19th goal and fifth over the last four games.

His finish came on the power play, establishing a career-high four-game power play goal streak. A four-game goal streak overall ties his season high.

-And special-teams play by the Wild was strong.

Although the penalty kill was tagged for a power play goal in the third period, it broke even on the night after scoring shorthanded (Kunin) in the second. And at 2-for-4, the power play now has 10 tallies in the past nine games. The unit has converted in a season-high four straight games, and this was only the 18th time in franchise history the Wild has scored at least two power play goals and one shorthanded goal in the same game.

“Obviously, this one stings,” Boudreau said. “We have 24 hours to get over it and then go back at it.”

Stalock to make third straight start in goal for Wild tonight

Alex Stalock has been in net for the Wild’s last two wins, helping the team crawl out of a four-game rut, and he’ll be back between the pipes Monday when the Wild vies for a third straight victory against the Panthers at Xcel Energy Center.

 

 

“Anytime you can get in there and get consecutive games at this position is huge,” Stalock said. “The way we’re playing as a unit is where we want to be. It’s not about individual positions right now. It’s how we’re playing as a unit, how effective we can be when we’re fast on pucks, and that’s everybody. We’re happy with the way our game’s trending, and we have an unbelievable hockey team in the building tonight so we gotta be ready to go.”

Not only is Stalock coming off a 27-save shutout, his second of the season, but he’s been terrific at home – one reason why it’s easy for the Wild to continue to rely on him.

At Xcel Energy Center this season, Stalock is 7-1-1 with a .924 save percentage and 2.10 goals-against average.

“Anytime you have good goaltending, you’re always in the game,” Boudreau said. “Hopefully we’ll get it again tonight.”

The Wild will stick with the same lineup it used Saturday when it thrashed the Stars 7-0.

Although captain Mikko Koivu and defenseman Brad Hunt skated Monday morning, the two are still getting over a flu bug, Boudreau said, and aren’t ready to play.

“They’re feeling better,” Boudreau said, “but they’re not up to partake tonight.”

Projected lineup:

Zach Parise-Eric Staal-Mats Zuccarello

Jason Zucker-Victor Rask-Kevin Fiala

Marcus Foligno-Joel Eriksson Ek-Luke Kunin

Jordan Greenway-Ryan Donato-Ryan Hartman

Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba

Carson Soucy-Greg Pateryn

Alex Stalock

Key numbers:

10-0-1: Record for the Wild in its last 11 home games vs. the Panthers.

3-plus: Goals by the Wild in 17 of its 22 home games.

8: Wild power play goals over the past eight contests.

400: Career games for center Victor Rask.

45: Saves for Stalock over the last 47 shots faced.

About the Panthers:

The Panthers carry a four-game win streak into action tonight, and they’ve won eight of their last 11 overall. Their road trip started Saturday in Detroit with a 4-1 victory. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky returned that game after missing the previous two with an upper-body injury to post 27 saves. Also keep an eye on winger Jonathan Huberdeau, who has 27 points in his last 15 games. His 64 points overall lead Florida.

Final, 1/20 1 2 3 F
Florida 27-16-5 1 1 3 5
Minnesota 22-21-6 1 1 2 4

NHL Scoreboard

  • Detroit

    Colorado

     

    - F

    3

    6

  • Florida

    Minnesota

     

    - F

    5

    4