Brickley’s goal gives Panthers win over Wild
SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers stayed composed while trailing in their first game back home after a weeklong road trip.
The determination paid off with a win.
The Panthers erased two deficits and finally seized the lead on Connor Brickley’s rebound goal midway through the third period, carrying Florida to a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Friday night.
Tied at 2-2 in the third period, Brickley slammed home a rebound for his third goal at 11:14 after goalie Alex Stalock made a save on Keith Yandle’s shot following a scramble around the Wild goal.
Brickley was expected to be a scratch after morning skate, but fellow forward Jamie McGinn didn’t feel well during warmups, putting Brickley in the lineup as the third-line left wing.
“We got a good bounce to Yandle in front. I just figured he was going to get the puck on net and I just saw the opening in front, so I went to the net and got a good bounce,” Brickley said of his goal.
Jonathan Huberdeau had a pair of goals and Vincent Trocheck added another for Florida (14-16-5). Huberdeau added an empty-net goal in the final seconds -- his 11th -- on a pass from Aleksander Barkov.
The Wild (18-14-3) had multiple chances to gain possession of the puck behind their goal, but the frantic pace had Florida pushing hard.
“It’s very frustrating. How many times have I talked about us being tied in the last 10 minutes of a game and then not getting anything out of it on the road?” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau asked rhetorically.
“We gave the puck away and that’s how they scored. It’s just being dumb.”
Ryan Suter and Daniel Winnik scored for Minnesota, and Stalock made 30 saves.
James Reimer, making his eighth straight start for Florida, recorded 29 saves.
Florida has won its last two games despite trailing 2-1 entering the third period. The Panthers also won Tuesday night in Arizona.
“We stayed composed. We stuck to our game plan and just kept grinding it out. It was a good thing to see,” said Florida coach Bob Boughner.
With the score tied at 1-1 in the second, Winnik tucked away his own rebound off a one-handed shot at 10:34 for his third goal and a 2-1 lead.
“It’s very frustrating and not the first time it’s happened to us too,” Winnik said of the late blown leads. “It seems to be a recurring theme. Unfortunately, that’s not what playoff teams do.”
Added Boudreau: ”We made a couple of mistakes (in that third period) and they put it in. Then you’re fighting from behind and chasing the game.
“They’re digging in in their building and it’s a blown game.”
Huberdeau evened it at 2-2 with a slick toe-drag by Wild defenseman Nate Prosser and a backhanded goal at 2:00 of the third.
Suter’s blast from near the blue line made its way through the traffic and past Reimer for his fifth goal and a 1-0 lead on an early power play.
The Panthers had allowed just three power-play goals over their previous 14 games at a 93.0 penalty-kill percentage -- tops in the NHL during that span.
Florida scored an even-strength marker to tie it 1-1 when Trocheck’s wrister near the boards beside the right circle clipped Stalock’s glove and went in for his 14th goal at 16:53.
NOTES: Playing the third game of a four-game road trip, Minnesota scratched RW Zack Mitchell, D Gustav Olofsson and G Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk, who injured his knee on Dec. 12, joined the team for practice in morning skate. Wild coach Bruce Boudreau has been impressed by Dubnyk’s progress but said his No. 1 goalie isn’t expected to play this weekend. ... Wild C Matt Cullen, who played two seasons for Florida from 2002-04, appeared in his 1,400th NHL game. ... Florida scratched LW Jamie McGinn and D Ian McCoshen. ... Panthers G Roberto Luongo hasn’t played since sustaining a lower-body injury against the Islanders on Dec. 4, but the 38-year-old goalie skated for the first time on Thursday and worked on some catching and blocking drills. ... Florida G James Reimer posted a 2.18 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage on the five-game road swing. ... The two clubs meet for the final time this season in St. Paul on Jan 2.