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.”