Photo Credit: Marilyn Indahl-US PRESSWIRE

The Day After: Panthers Let Huge Win Slip Away Against Wild

Forty-five seconds. That’s how long it took the Florida Panthers to turn what looked like a sure win against the Minnesota Wild into a 3-2 overtime loss Thursday night.

Erik Christensen cleaned up some garbage around the Panther net with 30 seconds left to stun the Cats, who like earlier in the season, couldn’t get that one last clear of the puck to preserve the win. And before you could even tweet your displeasure, Mikko Koivu split the Panther defense to put the game winner past Jose Theodore just 15 seconds into the extra session.

It was a shocking and disappointing result considering the Panthers had shown some grit by taking the lead with less than seven minutes left when Tomas Fleischmann added to his team lead in goals with a 4-on-3 power play effort off a great pass from Jason Garrison.

The Panthers would blow two leads in this game as they got on the board first when Scottie Upshall, who was put on the first line after an impressive game in Montreal on Tuesday, buried just his second goal of the season on a power play in the second period off an outstanding pass from Fleischmann. It’s a great sign for Upshall if he can get his game cranked up as this team is in serious need of goal-scoring.

After carrying the 1-0 lead into the third, it took the Wild just 1:03 to tie it up. Kyle Brodziak cleaned up a puck that sat untouched in the slot seemingly forever and patiently backhanded it past Theodore, setting up the dramatics later in the period and overtime.

If you’re trying to be positive about this, you can say the Panthers at least took a point away from this one but, let’s be honest, this should have been two points in the bank as the team heads to Columbus Friday to face the suddenly hot Blue Jackets. It’s nowhere near time to panic but with the Washington Capitals picking up two points on Thursday, there certainly isn’t any less pressure over the final five games. It would certainly help if someone other than Fleischmann helped out with the scoring load. Kris Versteeg has not scored since returning from injury and really hasn’t played all that well in that time. Shawn Matthias hasn’t scored since Februaary 15 and has gone pointless in his last 11. That doesn’t mean that these guys haven’t contributed in other ways but this team NEEDS goals and needs them badly. Opportunities have been there but they just haven’t gone in. But those mentioned are two guys whom this team needs to find their goal scoring touch down the stretch.

Ad obviously, from the way this team was set up, it needs to come from a number of people. This team was set up so Kevin Dineen could roll four lines and get production from each but it hasn’t been that way recently. But if the Cats are going to go to the post season, it needs to start Friday again on Friday. After this game, there certainly should be no shortage of things to use as motivation.

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Tags: Florida Panthers Jason Garrison Jose Theodore Kris Versteeg Kyle Brodziak Minnesota Wild Scottie Upshall Shawn Matthias Tomas Fleischmann

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