The two underachieving interconference foes saw the puck drop on a night in south Florida when most everyone’s attention is focused on the Heatles and Vinsanity. Stephen Weiss set a record when the puck dropped by appearing in his 614th Florida game, passing Radek Dvorak. The game also saw three players join or rejoin the Panthers on the ice. The return of defenseman Ed Jovanovski, back from a broken hand, Michal Repik, called up from San Antonio, and Jon Matsumoto, also called up from the Rampage. Matsumoto is the recent trade return for Evgeny Dadonov going to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Darroll Powe beat Jose Theodore between the pads at the three minute mark, but Erik Gudbranson managed to keep it out of the net with some quick stickwork to keep the game scoreless.
At the 11 minute mark, Jovanovski was called for interference on Jed Ortmeyer along the right side in the Florida zone. The Wild have been converting 15% of their power plays this season, placing them near the back of the NHL in 23rd. The Panthers penalty kill is 22nd, at 81%. Sean Bergenheim kept the puck in the Wild zone, pretty much unassisted for about 20 seconds. Minnesota managed to get one shot on goal, but never threatened to break the seal on the scoreboard.
Kris Versteeg was called for holding Devin Setoguchi’s stick at the 17 minute mark for Minnesota’s second man advantage of the game. Florida again only allowed one shot on goal, as the Panthers displayed an efficient penalty kill.
Sean Bergenheim was hi-sticked in the face by Nick Schultz at the seven minute mark. Florida won their first two faceoffs, keeping the puck in the Minnesota zone for the first 1:42 of the man advantage and collecting four shots on goal.
Devin Setoguchi ran over Jose Theodore at the 13 minute mark to put the Cats back up a man for two minutes. After just a few seconds, Mikael Samuelsson (8) finally got the Panthers on the board when he corraled a loose rebound in front of Niklas Backstrom and flipped it into the net. Tomas Fleischmann (26) and Stephen Weiss (29) collected assists on the play.
The Wild would score the equalizer with only 19 seconds remaining in the period. Kyle Brodziak (16) scored with assists from Marek Zidlicky (14) and Dany Heatley (24).
Stephen Weiss tripped Jared Spurgeon less than a minute into the period, putting the Wild on their third power play of the night. Minnesota would pull ahead soon after when Matt Cullen (13) wristed one past an out of position Jose Theodore with assists by Dany Heatley (25) and Jared Spurgeon (17).
Sean Bergenheim was high sticked in the face by Marek Zidlicky at the four minute mark, giving the Panthers their third power play of the evening. Florida wouldn’t enjoy any returns for their two minutes up a man.
At the 16 minute mark, Sean Bergenheim moved into a tie for third on the team with his 13th goal of the season to pull the Panthers into a tie. Brian Campbell (38) and Mikael Samuelsson (10) earned the assists. Regulation would end knotted up, and the teams resorted to bonus four-on-four hockey to decide things.
Neither team would gain an edge in the five minute overtime period.
Erik Christensen would go first for Minnesota, who has 25 shootout goals over his career, third all time, beat Theodore glove side.
Kris Versteeg lost to Backstrom with a backhand.
Matt Cullen beat Theodore five hole.
Sean Bergenheim was stopped cold by Backstrom. Minnesota wins in the shootout.
Hits: Panthers, 38-34 (Jack Skille and Erik Gudbranson each collected seven hits for the Panthers, while Cal Clutterbuck and Darroll Powe each had six for the Wild).
Blocked Shots: Wild, 23-10 (Nate Prosser had four for Minnesota).
Faceoffs: Panthers, 30-25 (Stephen Weiss won 16 of 27 faceoff chances for Florida, Tomas Kopecky won 10 of 16. Matt Cullen won nine of 22 for the Wild).
Shots on Goal: Panthers, 43-28 (Mikael Samuelsson took a season high eight shots for the Cats, Sean Bergenheim added seven, while Dany Heatley paced the Wild with six.
Score: Wild 3, Panthers 2