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Last-second deflection costs Wild in 5-4 loss to Panthers

Sarah Mclellan, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Hockey

MINNEAPOLIS -- Before the Wild wraps up its pre-All-Star break schedule against the last-place Red Wings, it had to face a much stiffer test from a different Eastern Conference foe.

Not only do the Panthers have one of the best offenses in the NHL, but they've been on a roll of late -- winning eight of their previous 11 before descending on St. Paul.

And although the Wild had no problem rising to the challenge, it was downed by a late goal to fall 5-4 Monday at Xcel Energy Center to nix its two-game win streak.

With just 5.6 seconds left, Florida winger Noel Acciari deflected in a shot to stun the Wild and finally settle a back-and-forth that was tied after each of the first two periods.

The Panthers were the ones to capitalize first both times, establishing a lead 4:01 into the first on a heads-up play that saw winger Mike Hoffman find a pinching defenseman Keith Yandle for the backdoor shot.

After that, the Wild spent quality minutes in Florida's end of the rink but couldn't cash in on the pressure -- getting stymied by Bobrovsky, who was making just his second start since returning from a two-game absence due to an upper-body injury.

 

Eventually, though, the Wild evened it on the power play when defenseman Jared Spurgeon banked in a rebound off Bobrovsky from along the goal line with just 17 seconds remaining in the first. The goal was Spurgeon's second in as many games.

Florida tested goalie Alex Stalock, making a third straight start, more in the second, and reclaimed an advantage on a highlight-reel finish by center Aleksander Barkov.

After skating in alone on a breakaway, Barkov lifted the puck top shelf over Stalock -- depositing the puck on the right side of the net as he skated left.

Like before, the Wild had a response.

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