NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, March 9th (All times eastern)
Florida Panthers (26-28-10) at Minnesota Wild (31-28-5), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Florida Panthers were able to stop their longest losing streak of the season with victories in their last two games. Now the team will turn its attention towards ending a long winless drought against the Minnesota Wild when the clubs face off this evening at the Xcel Energy Center.
Florida put an 0-6-1 skid to an end with Wednesday's 7-4 decision over Philadelphia at the BankAtlantic Center, then followed up with a 4-1 home win over Carolina on Saturday behind a 31-save performance from goaltender Tomas Vokoun.
Michael Frolik and Kamil Kreps gave Vokoun all the support he would need by scoring within a span of 1:11 in the first period, and Kreps added an empty- net tally in the closing minutes to seal the win.
"We scored seven goals in the game before and were able to get two quick goals in this game," said Frolik. "It's good because it helps us grab the momentum in the game and carry it through. It was a big win for us."
The Panthers hope their recent success can extend to the road, a place where the team hasn't won since January 14. Florida is 0-5-1 in its last six outings as the visitor and scored a mere seven goals over that poor stretch.
Florida has an even longer winless drought against the Wild, having dropped the last seven meetings in this series. Minnesota is 7-1 with a tie over its nine all-time encounters with the Panthers and has outscored Florida 31-13 over the course of those games.
The Panthers' lone victory over the Wild took place in Florida on February 7, 2001. They are 0-3 with a tie in their four previous trips to St. Paul.
Minnesota will be trying to halt a string of back-to-back losses, including Sunday's disappointing 5-2 home setback to fellow Northwest Division member Calgary. Goaltender Nicklas Backstrom, who had yielded only two goals in his last four matchups with the Flames, stopped only 19-of-23 shots in a shaky performance between the pipes.
"I thought we had some breakdowns where we gave them some chances," Wild coach Todd Richards said. "We were already chasing right there, 19 seconds into the game," referring to a quick goal by Calgary's Rene Bourque in the game's initial stages.
One bright spot in Sunday's defeat was Guillaume Latendresse, who scored both Minnesota goals. The Quebec native has lit the lamp seven times in his last nine contests and recorded 21 goals in 30 games since being acquired by the Wild from Montreal in a November 23 trade.
Minnesota is a solid 21-9-2 at the Xcel Energy Center for the season but has struggled there as of late, having dropped three of its last four tests on home ice.
Both clubs enter tonight's tilt seven points out of a playoff spot in their respective conferences. Florida stands 12th in the East with 62 points, while Minnesota's 67 points is good for only 13th place in the West.
03/09 10:44:26 ET