A Learning Process
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com
SUNRISE - There’s no reason to panic, the Panthers agreed Thursday evening. It’s only the third game in an 82-game season.
But coach Peter DeBoer and his players agreed after losing to the Wild 6-2 at BankAtlantic Center that these kinds of performances are unacceptable.
Despite holding the Wild to only five shots in the first period, the Panthers couldn’t find a flow, couldn’t score on a pivotal 5-on-3 power play late in the second period, and couldn’t leave the arena with their second victory of the season.
“It was a disappointing effort,” DeBoer admitted. “I thought we came out and played pretty good the first 20 minutes. We held them to five shots. From there it went downhill and pretty quickly.”
Mikko Koivu was one of the reasons. The Wild captain scored the sixth goal and added four assists while linemates Andrew Brunette (one goal, one assist) and Antti Miettinen (two goals, one assist) also chipped in.
The Panthers are now 1-7-1-0 all-time against the Wild. Goalie Tomas Vokoun
, who allowed two goals on the first five shots he faced, was replaced by Craig Anderson to start the third period after allowing four goals on 22 shots. The Panthers were also penalized twice in the third period for having too many men on the ice and were penalized for six minor penalties in the final 24:02.
“We just didn’t have anything going,” said defenseman Nick Boynton, who scored his first goal as a Panther in the second period. “When we tried to fight back we made stupid mistakes and killed ourselves.”
The turning point in the game might have occurred at 19:20 of the second period when the Panthers, trailing 4-2, had a 5-on-3 man advantage for 51 seconds. But the opportunity came and went, and so did the Panthers chances.
“It seemed like a sloppy game,” David Booth
said. “The puck was bouncing. You have to take responsibility for that. When the puck is like that you have to play the body and get in front of the net. I don’t think we did that, especially me. I didn’t get any hits or get rebounds in front of the net.
“I think they out-muscled us, and that’s unacceptable, especially at home and especially early in the season.”
Playing without Marian Gaborik, Owen Nolan and Pierre-Marc Bouchard, the Wild got on the board first at 7:26 of the first period when Brunette beat Vokoun on a backhand feed from behind the net from Koivu.
Just 2:58 into the second period, the Wild made it 2-0 when defenseman Kim Johnsson took what appeared a harmless shot from the right point that slid through a crowd of four in front of the Panther net and past Vokoun.
The Panthers came back to make it 2-1 at 4:15 when Nathan Horton carried the puck into the Wild zone and passed it to Keith Ballard at the point. Ballard took a shot that was tipped in by Boynton.
After Miettinen gave the Wild a 3-1 lead at 13:29 of the second period on the power play, Karlis Skrastins, playing his first game of the season, answered back with a goal just 1:13 later on a blast from the point to make it 3-2.
Just minutes after Benoit Pouliot beat Vokoun at 15:58 on a breakaway after Boynton and Ballard collided inside the Panther blue line to make it 4-2, the Panthers got their 5-on-3 power play. Unfortunately, they couldn’t score and never mounted a serious threat in the third period.
Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom making 24 saves.
“As they got the lead and scored some goals we didn’t handle that the right way,” DeBoer said. “That’s going to be a learning process.”
The Panthers will have to take away that lesson as they prepare Saturday night at BankAtlantic Center for the Islanders.
Skrastins blocked three shots in his return to the lineup and played 23:27…Nathan Horton won 13 of 18 faceoffs…Wade Belak and Derek Boogaard exchanged blows during a fight at 14:06 of the first period…DeBoer switched up his lines to start the game, moving Brett McLean alongside Nathan Horton and Cory Stillman
and moving Rostislav Olesz
alongside Radek Dvorak
and Gregory Campbell…The Panthers will show their support for the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer campaign by hosting their annual Hockey Fights Cancer Night when they play host Saturday to the Islanders. The Panther Foundation will host a Mystery Puck fundraiser…
|Three star selections