SUNRISE, Fla. – More often than not this season, Wild have been the faster team when they have set foot on the ice.
It has made it a very entertaining product that fans in the twin cities have attracted over the last few months. It is also made into a very successful product, with Wild currently sitting at the top of the central division.
That said, Wild could have faced their game against the Florida Panthers. They looked bigger, faster and stronger to big chunks of Saturday’s game at the FLA Live Arena, and although Wild showed some persistence in 60 minutes of play, it was not enough in a 5-4 loss to the Panthers.
The biggest discrepancy in the game came early, with Wild then overmatched for most of the first period. It finally caught up with them late in the frame when winger Owen Tippett put the Panthers ahead 1-0.
While Wild slowly began to wake up in the second period, the Panthers pushed their lead to 2-0 thanks to a snipe from winger Frank Vatrano.
It should probably come as no surprise that Wild fought back a few minutes later with Joel Eriksson Ek hammering a perfect pass home from Mats Zuccarello to reduce to 2-1.
The good feelings were quite short-lived as Vatrano struck again late in the second period to restore the Panthers’ lead to 3-1.
Not long after, Kevin Fiala had a couple of chances to help Wild get back in the fight. However, he failed to convert on both occasions with goalkeeper Sergei Bobrovsky standing high between the pipes.
It paved the way for the third period, with Kirill Kaprizov moving up to 3-2. He drove through the neutral zone, caught a pass from Frederick Gaudreau and did what Fiala could not earlier in the match, hitting Bobrovsky with a snipe.
Unfortunately for Wild, the Panthers responded with a hiss when winger Carter Verhaeghe beat Dmitry Kulikov with a power play in front and then struck a shot at Cam Talbot to make it 4-2.
In the last minute, Marcus Foligno briefly made things interesting and scored with 45.1 seconds left to reduce to 4-3. On the ensuing shift, center Sam Bennett scored an empty goal to make it 5-3 and put the game away for the Panthers.
In the waning seconds, Ryan Hartman scored to make it 5-4.
Wild Captain Jared Spurgeon returned with a lower body injury midway through the first period and did not return. His status for Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning is unclear.
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