NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, November 15th (All times Eastern)
Florida Panthers (4-11-4) at Minnesota Wild (11-4-4), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Florida Panthers will try to build off their first win under Peter Horachek when they visit the surging Minnesota Wild in Friday's interconference battle at Xcel Energy Center.
The Panthers fired head coach Kevin Dineen and his staff after the club went 3-9-4 through 16 games. Horachek, who has taken over the head coaching duties on an interim basis, lost his first two games behind the Florida bench before the Panthers posted a 3-2 home win Tuesday against Anaheim.
Florida had lost nine straight games during an 0-5-4 stretch before finally earning a win with the close decision over the visiting Ducks. Brad Boyes netted the game-winner 4:29 into the third period, as the Panthers potted three unanswered goals to rally for the surprising victory over Anaheim.
Trailing 2-0 after 20 minutes, Shawn Matthias and Scottie Upshall scored 1:10 apart in the second to even the contest before Boyes' backhander early in the third put the Panthers on top.
Tim Thomas turned away 32 shots, including 13 in the final frame to help snap Florida's nine-game skid.
"Tonight we played 40 minutes and beat a heck of a hockey team," Horachek said of the team's lackluster start to the game. "We still have lots of work to do but I'm really proud of the way we responded."
Florida will try to halt another losing streak on Friday when they open a five-game road trip. The Panthers have lost eight straight as the guest and are just 1-7-1 on the road this season. The club's only win away from the Sunshine State came in the season opener in Dallas on Oct. 3.
Changes also continued to hit the club as the Panthers dealt forwards Kris Versteeg and Philippe Lefebvre to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night for forward Jimmy Hayes and defenseman Dylan Olsen.
Hayes has six goals and seven assists in 43 career NHL games, while Olsen has logged 28 games over his young career.
Minnesota, meanwhile, is sporting a terrific 8-1-2 record on home ice this season and has won four straight in St. Paul. The Wild are also 8-1-2 in their past 11 trips to the ice overall.
The Wild notched their second straight win on Wednesday, recording a 2-1 shootout victory over visiting Toronto. Zach Parise and Jason Pominville both scored in the shootout to lift Minnesota to the close win.
After Parise lit the lamp as Minnesota's first shooter, Josh Harding stopped Mason Raymond and Phil Kessel before Pominville fired a wrister through the five-hole of Jonathan Bernier for the win.
"We beat a really good team," Wild head coach Mike Yeo said. "I love the way our guys competed."
Parise scored the Wild's only goal in regulation, with the assists coming from Mikko Koivu and Charlie Coyle. Harding made 19 saves on 20 shots after entering the game in relief of an injured Niklas Backstrom.
Backstrom was hurt when Toronto's Nazem Kadri crashed the net and made contact to the head of the defenseless goaltender. The Wild announced after the game Backstrom is suffering from an upper-body injury and he won't be available for tonight's game. Kadri was hit with a three-game suspension by the league for his collision with Backstrom.
Kadri caused more trouble later in the game, receiving a five-minute match penalty for an illegal hit to the head on Mikael Granlund close to the midway point of the third. Kadri threw a high hit along the boards, which sent the back of Granlund's head violently into the glass.
Granlund missed practice on Thursday, but he could go in Friday's game.
The Wild will close a three-game homestand Sunday against Winnipeg before heading out on a four-game road trip.
Florida has a 3-0-2 record over the last five meetings against the Wild, but Minnesota is 4-0-1 with a tie in the six all-time encounters in St. Paul.
11/15 10:59:34 ET