Your Minnesota Wild played to a packed house in Sunrise, Florida tonight, were they did not hesitate to put on a show for the locals. The game had it stretches where the play slowed down, and there never was much of a fast-paced tempo to as the Wild seemed content to sit on the puck and pick their spots against an over-matched Florida Panthers squad.
The Wild would be lifted to victory on the stick of Jason Zucker and his 2 goals, his 7th and 8th of the season. Nino Niederreiter would also tickle the twine with a pretty backhand-shelf, scoring his team leading 10th goal of the season. (I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank Garth Snow and the New York Islander organization for their generous gift) Zach Parise would cap the scoring for the Wild with a late, empty-net goal, but by then there was more players on the ice than there was in the stands.
Niklas Backstrom was largely solid in net tonight, although he was not tested often early in the game. He would stop 29 of 30 shots the Panthers were able to muster, with 16 of those coming in the 3rd period. Zucker was flying around the ice most of the night as well. He was showing the kind of energy we see from Parise on a nightly basis, and was even able to negate an icing with his speed.
The Wild really controlled this game from the opening draw, until score-effects took over in the final frame to give the Panthers a respectable shot total. With just 14 shots on goal in the first 2 periods for the Panthers to the Wild's 30 SOG over that span, the Panthers seemed to just sit back for most the game and didn't show a whole lot of life until 5:34 into the 2nd period where the Panthers would score their lone goal off the stick of Shawn Thornton.
The Panthers would do most of their shooting damage in the 3rd period where they were able to pepper Backstrom with 16 shots on goal, including a nice flurry towards the end of the game where Backstrom was able to deflect a dangerous shot out of harms way with his blocker.
Wild Kaptain Mikko Koivu with get the lone assists on both of Jason Zucker's goals tonight. Jason Pominville and Ryan Suter would also earn assists on Zach Parise's empty net goal at the end of the game. Next up for the Wild, we welcome the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings to town on Wednesday night. The Wild lost to the Kings on the road in their first meeting of the season 2 - 1. In 51 all-time games against the Kings, the Wild are 23-17-5-6.