ST. PAUL, Minn. - Charlie Coyle's goal with 8:22 remaining in regulation enabled the Minnesota Wild to survive a third-period letdown and escape with a 3-2 victory against the Florida Panthers on Friday night.
First-period goals by Zach Parise and Jason Pominville put the Wild up 2-0 after 20 minutes and seemingly on their way to an easy victory. But after a scoreless second period, the Panthers came out rolling in the third, getting goals by Tomas Kopecky and Jonathan Huberdeau less than six minutes apart to knot the game at 2-2.
Florida continued its third-period push until Mikko Koivu dug out a loose puck in the corner and found Coyle on the doorstep with a pinpoint pass. Coyle beat Tim Thomas for his second goal of the season to put the Wild ahead to stay.
Josh Harding made 22 saves for the Wild, now 12-4-4 overall and 9-1-2 at Xcel Energy Center. Thomas stopped 17 shots for the Panthers (4-12-4).
Minnesota went ahead 1-0 at 4:59 of the first, taking advantage of great puck movement from its top power-play unit. Pominville hit Koivu with a cross-zone pass at the right circle and he fired a slap pass to Parise at the top of the crease. Parise tipped the puck past Thomas for his 10th of the season.
Pominville made it 2-0 at 13:38 when he took a nice cross-slot pass from Jared Spurgeon and flipped the puck top-shelf for his team-leading 12th of the season.
Florida outshot Minnesota 9-5 in the second but didn't seriously threaten until early in third when Kopecky took a pass from Jesse Winchester, whose aggressive forecheck caused the Wild to cough up the puck in their own zone, and beat Harding five-hole at 3:31 for his first of the season.
The Panthers tied it at 8:59 when Huberdeau gobbled up a loose puck in the slot and rifled it past Harding for his fourth of the season.
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