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Panthers Fall To Wild (AP Story)

Thursday, 10.16.2008 / 10:32 PM / Recap
Associated Press
Minnesota Wild goalkeeper Niklas Backstrom, right, makes a save in the third period during an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Fla. Thursday, Oct. 16, 2008. At center is Panthers right wing Nathan Horton (16). (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -Minnesota Wild coach Jacques Lemaire refused to say much about his scoring combination of Mikko Koivu and Antti Miettinen.

He wasn't about to jinx them.

"I don t want to talk about it," Lemaire said, "because I want them to keep playing this way."

Koivu had a goal and four assists and Miettinen scored twice on the power play to help the Wild stay unbeaten with a 6-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.

Koivu's four assists tied a franchise record and gave him eight assists in three games. Miettinen added an assist and has five goals in three games, all wins for the Wild.

"They've jelled really well together, they know where they are on the ice and they make that quick pass," Lemaire said when asked again about Koivu and Miettinen. "It's fun to see that because it makes it a little easier for me."

Miettinen, a five-year veteran signed in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent, already is a third of the way toward matching his career high of 15 goals set last year as a member of the Dallas Stars.

He has exceeded his expectations with the fast start.

"You can always imagine," he said. "It's been going so far really well, over what I was thinking. It's good, you know."

Andrew Brunette, who plays left wing alongside Koivu and Miettinen, opened the scoring for Minnesota and had an assist.

The line combined for 10 points.

"Obviously it feels good, but I'm sure there's going to be games where it's not going to go in, said Koivu, a four-year veteran whose career high is 34 assists. We're just going to enjoy it when it's happening, though."

Kim Johnsson and Benoit Pouliot had the other goals for the Wild.

It's the third consecutive season Minnesota has started off with three consecutive victories. The Wild started 5-0 last season and 6-0 in 2006-07.

Nick Boynton and Karlis Skrastins scored for Florida (1-2).

"I would say we gave it away, but I don't think that we made them earn everything they got," Florida center Stephen Weiss said. "I think that a few of the goals that they got probably could have been avoided, but at the same time that's how it goes."

Nicklas Backstrom made 24 saves for Minnesota. He improved to 10-0-4 with one no-decision in his last 15 starts.

Florida's Tomas Vokoun allowed four goals on 22 shots in the first two periods before being replaced by Craig Anderson.

"He's not the reason we lost tonight," Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. "There was a lot of different reasons, but I think everybody from our goalie out has to be better and they know that."

Minnesota has won the last seven meetings between the teams.

Miettinen, the first player to score in his first two games in a Minnesota uniform, made it three straight at 13:29 of the second period with a power-play goal that increased the Wild s lead to 3-1.

Miettinen's second goal also came on the power play and off another pass from Koivu. Miettinen tipped in Koivu's pass across the goal mouth to make it 5-2 at 6:21 of the third period.

Koivu scored his first of the season on another power play at 16:00.

Minnesota finished 3-for-6 on the power play while killing all four its penalties.

Pouliot took advantage of Boynton's over aggressiveness to make it 4-2.

As Pouliot was getting away from defenseman Keith Ballard at the blue line, Boynton moved up to deliver a big check but barely hit Pouliot. Pouliot then skated in alone on Vokoun and beat him with a wrist shot to the short side.

"I thought he would fall, then I thought he would fall, he fell, then he got up and I thought he would fall again, then the puck is in the net," Lemaire said. "I haven't seen that in my (play)book yet, or any book."

That goal capped a wide-open second period that saw the teams combine for five goals.

Johnsson made it 2-0 at 2:58 when his wrist shot from the point went off the skate of Ballard. Boynton made it 2-1 by tipping in Ballard's shot from the top of the faceoff circle.

After Miettinen made it 3-1, Skrastins beat Backstrom with a slap shot from the point.

"We weren't that good at all," Ballard said. "We kind of hung around for a bit, but you can't really fake it in this game. They're a good team. We gave them opportunities, then we just kind of folded in the third. We were terrible."

Notes: Skrastins made his season debut and played in his 600th NHL game after missing Florida s first two games because of a neck injury. ... To make room on the roster for Skrastins, the Panthers put D Bryan McCabe on the injured list. He has been out since sustaining a back injury in Florida's opener at Carolina on Oct. 10. ... Florida was penalized twice in the third period for having too many men on the ice. ... Backstrom's last loss in regulation came March 4, 2008, against Chicago (4-2). ... The game matched the youngest (DeBoer, 40) and oldest (Lemaire, 63) coaches in the NHL.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

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2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
N. Bjugstad 76 16 22 -14 38
S. Upshall 76 15 22 1 37
B. Campbell 82 7 30 -6 37
B. Boyes 78 21 15 -6 36
S. Bergenheim 62 16 13 -16 29
J. Huberdeau 69 9 19 -5 28
T. Fleischmann 80 8 20 -18 28
T. Gilbert 73 3 25 -5 28
B. Pirri 49 13 12 6 25
A. Barkov 54 8 16 -3 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 25 23 7 .919 2.40
S. Clemmensen 6 7 1 .896 3.09
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