Coyle’s Goal lifts Wild To 3-2 Win Over Panthers
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Charlie Coyle put Minnesota ahead with 8:22 remaining after Florida scored twice in the third period to tie it, and the Wild hung on to beat the Panthers 3-2 on Friday night for their sixth win in seven games.
After a scoreless second period, the Wild paid for their mid-game sluggishness by giving up goals to Tomas Kopecky and Jonathan Huberdeau about 5½ minutes apart that gave the Panthers life. Minnesota’s top line was buzzing all night, though, and came through when it counted.
Mikko Koivu, who had two assists, controlled the puck along the end boards and leaned forward for an off-balance pass to Coyle, who was muscling for position in the crease with Mike Mottau. Coyle poked the puck in for his second goal in four games.
Josh Harding stopped 22 shots to improve to 9-0 at home.
The NHL leader in goals against average has given up two goals or fewer in all but one of his 16 appearances. His career record at Xcel Energy Center improved to 30-9-2.
Zach Parise scored early in the first period during a power play off a pretty tic-tac-toe-style passing sequence from Koivu and Jason Pominville, and Pominville pushed the lead to 2-0 with his team-leading 12th goal.
Harding turned aside consecutive shots by Marcel Goc and Kopecky as a power play expired in the early seconds of the final frame, but the Wild were sloppy for a bit and suddenly found themselves even.
Jonas Brodin’s own-zone turnover set up Kopecky for the first goal. Then after Nick Bjugstad lost the puck on a rush when Ryan Suter forced him to lose control, Huberdeau swooped in behind him to snipe a shot high over Harding’s glove.
Tim Thomas made 17 saves for the Panthers, who played for the first time without Kris Versteeg. He was traded to Chicago on Thursday for a pair of prospects, including 6-foot-6 right wing Jimmy Hayes, who was scratched for this game.
After firing coach Kevin Dineen last week and replacing him with Peter Horachek, Florida general manager Dale Tallon has promised more changes if the Panthers don’t get in a groove. They started a five-game, 6,448-mile trip by falling to 1-8-1 on the road this season.
Their last win away from home was the season opener at Dallas.
The Wild improved to 9-1-2 at home this season for 20 points, the most by any NHL team. At 12-4-4, they set a franchise record for most points (28) through 20 games.
The Panthers went 0 for 3 on the power play and fell to 6 for 69 this season. They were second-to-last in the league in that category coming into the game.
NOTES: Rookie Johan Gustafsson was recalled from the AHL to back up Harding, with Niklas Backstrom out because of an upper-body injury sustained Wednesday when Toronto’s Nazem Kadri leveled him in the crease. Kadri was given a three-game suspension. … The Wild are 10-2-3 against the Panthers, including 5-0-2 at home. … Bjugstad, a star at Blaine High School and the University of Minnesota, played in Minnesota as a pro for the first time. He had about 70 friends and family members in attendance.
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