The Florida Panthers were heading into Minnesota; starting what would be a five-game road trip, while also searching for their sixth consecutive win.
Both James Reimer and Devan Dubnyk started in between the pipes for their respective sides, looking to lead their teams to victory. Zach Parise also returned from his long term injury, suiting up in his first game of the season.
The Cats started the game off tight, matching the same pace and style their opponent were playing with. High danger scoring chances were hard to come by for Florida, as Minnesota were pushing them to the outside on every play.
Aleksander Barkov took an early penalty, and was called for goaltender interference. Like that, the Panthers got off to a rough start, and were forced to kill a penalty without their best penalty killer. Thankfully, the penalty killing unit killed off the penalty with success, allowing the game to remain scoreless.
Six minutes left in the opening period is when things changed. The Wild got on the board, courtesy of Matt Cullen. Cullen pounced on a rebound from Jared Spurgeon’s point shot, giving his side a 1-0 lead:
Cullen’s goal would end up being the only goal of the period, sending his team into the locker room a goal ahead. The Panthers on the other hand were out grinded, and needed to find a way to create scoring chances.
The Panthers got off to a rough start to begin the second, as Minnesota added a second goal early on. Matt Cullen grabbed his second of the night, off a tip from the point. Cullen’s second goal would open up the flood gates for Minnesota, leaving Florida ultimately hopeless.
Halfway through the second and James Reimer went down with an injury. Ekblad and Granlund both fell on Reimer, forcing his head to snap back uncomfortably. Reimer remained on the ice for a good two minutes, as the training staff ran out to check on him.
Harri Sateri would be called upon to cover the cage, as Reimer headed down to the locker room, to be attended to. Sateri began his debut with calm and poised play, stopping every puck that came his way.
Unfortunately, Eric Staal would be the first to score on the net minder, giving his side a 3-0 lead. Right after the goal was scored, Reimer returned to the crease, sending Sateri back to the bench.
Eric Staal would record his 2nd of the night and his 17th of the year, extending the Wild’s lead to four. His second goal came off a pass from Tyler Ennis, with Staal then ripping a shot top-shelf:
Staal’s goal would fortunately be the last in the second for the Panthers, who were completely dominated in that frame. The Cats headed into the locker room down by four after two, with a mountain to climb to start the third.
Harri Sateri would return to the crease to start the third, as the Cats looked to make this game more respectable. The Panthers started the third off with high intensity, buzzing around the Wild’s zone.
Jonathan Huberdeau would finally put the Panthers on the board, as early as the three-minute mark. Coming off a beautiful tic-tac-toe play from Barkov and Trocheck, Huberdeau was left to put the puck in the net:
Huberdeau’s goal didn’t matter though, as the Minnesota Wild would shut the Cats out the rest of the night, by adding an empty netter, and winning the game by a score line of 5-1.
To conclude, there’s not much really say. The Cats got dominated by the better team tonight, and didn’t deserve to win this hockey game. Your Panthers are back in action on Thursday, January 4th @7:00pm against the Boston Bruins.