NHL Game Summary - Minnesota at Florida
(Thursday, October 16th)
Final Score: Minnesota 6, Florida 2
Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - Mikko Koivu tallied a goal in addition to assisting on four more, as the Minnesota Wild topped the Florida Panthers by a 6-2 margin at BankAtlantic Center.
Koivu's five-point night marks a career high for the 25-year-old center. Antti Miettinen had two goals and an assist, and Benoit Pouliot scored once and helped on another. Andrew Brunette and Kim Johnsson each scored a goal, as Minnesota has opened up its season by winning all three of its games. Niklas Backstrom stopped 24-of-26 shots to earn the win.
"Sometimes the puck comes to you and you make the play and it goes through the sticks," Koivu said. "Obviously, it feels good but, for sure, there are going to be games that it just doesn't go in, so you've just got to enjoy when it's happening."
Nick Boynton and Karlis Skrastins each found the back of the net for the Panthers, who have lost two of their first three games. Tomas Vokoun lasted only the first two periods, allowing four goals on 22 shots. Craig Anderson allowed two goals on 12 shots in the third period.
"We weren't good at all. Flat-out," Florida defenseman Keith Ballard said. "We kind of faked it for a little while, and hung around but that catches up to you. Stupid penalties. I had two penalties. We had two 'too many men' penalties and stupid stuff like that. That gets you."
The teams combined for five goals and only eight penalty minutes in the second period, a stark contrast from the first, when only one goal was scored. Minnesota opened up a 2-0 lead less than three minutes into the stanza, as Johnsson took a snap shot through four players camped out in front of the net. The puck deflected off a Panthers' defender and through Vokoun's legs for the score.
Florida came back to make it 2-1 just 1:17 later. Ballard took a slap shot from the point into some traffic in front of the net. Boynton was able to tip the puck in the air, and it managed to trickle past Backstrom.
The Wild followed with a goal on their only power play of the period. With Ballard off for holding, Miettinen took a cross-ice pass from Koivu, waited as Vokoun went down and lifted it over his sprawled-out body for a two- goal lead with 6:31 left in the period.
But the Panthers returned the favor in just 1:13. Skrastins fired a slap shot from the point, and the puck went through multiple players, ending up barely below the crossbar for a score.
Once again Minnesota was able to answer, keeping the Panthers from tying the contest. After a failed Panthers chance, Pouliot was able to take the puck from coast to coast, getting past two defenders as he beat Vokoun glove side with 4:02 to go in the second for a 4-2 advantage.
The Wild put the game out of reach a little over six minutes into the final period. After the Panthers got caught with too many men on the ice, Koivu found Miettinen on a perfect pass across the crease for an easy power play goal.
Koivu scored with four minutes remaining in the game for his fifth point of the match, wristing a shot over the glove of Anderson to account for the final 6-2 margin.
The first period was filled with more fighting and penalties than scoring, as both teams combined for 20 penalty minutes in the frame. About 7 1/2 minutes into the game, after a hip check infraction, multiple fights broke out, resulting in a Florida two-minute power play, during which they failed to capitalize.
Minnesota took advantage of its scoring chances, however, lighting the lamp 11:50 into the opening period. Koivu battled with a couple Florida defenders behind the net but was able to get the puck out in front. Brunette was right there to take the pass, beating Vokoun for the early lead.
Minnesota has now won seven straight games against the Panthers, a streak that dates back to 2001...Wild forward Marion Gaborik missed the game with what the team is calling a "lower-body injury"...Koivu now has eight assists and nine points in three games this season, and the team is 18-4-3 when he has a multi- point game...The Wild killed off all four of the Panthers' power plays in the game, and the team is now 12-for-12 on the penalty kill this season.
10/17 00:38:21 ET