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Florida Panthers Have a Historic Penalty Kill Meltdown

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Ryan Hartman celebrates one of five power play goals by the Minnesota Wild — and one of three in the second period — on Friday night in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

SUNRISE — On most nights, the penalty kill is one of the biggest strengths of the Florida Panthers.

Friday was not one of them.

The Minnesota Wild scored five power-play goals en route to a 6-4 win over the Panthers, tying a record for the most allowed in franchise history.

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Before Friday night, three teams had scored five power-play goals on the Panthers.

It happened twice during the 2005-06 season.

At the start of the following season, the Atlanta Thrashers — look ‘em up — did it for what was the final time until the third period Friday.

“The things that we’re really good at, we weren’t,” coach Paul Maurice said.

“It starts with faceoffs and mostly clears, after that, we’re just behind it. The first goal was a nice play, but they’re just pucks on net after that. We have to clear the net front, and we’ve got to get some blocks. It’s won us a whole lot of games this year, but it wasn’t very good tonight.”

Before Friday’s game, the Panthers went 19 games without allowing more than one power-play goal in a game, last doing so on Dec. 6 against the Dallas Stars.

They had not given up more than two power-play goals in a game all season.

With Sasha Barkov out for a second-straight game with a lower-body injury and penalty killers called for penalties on multiple occasions, the Panthers did not have a night to remember — in a positive way — on the penalty kill.

“It’s been really good the last 20 games, so it felt like we were doing pretty good, but we need to look at what we can do better,” Anton Lundell said.

“Overall, we wish he was here, but we must find a way to win without him. And I thought, on the penalty kill, there was stuff we can do better. We can’t, unfortunately, let that many goals in and it’s tough to get back, but whenever he is feeling better, we will be happy to take him back.”

Even after falling behind 5-2 against a power play firing at a 5-for-6 clip, the Panthers were not down and out yet.

Lundell helped pick the Panthers back up off the mat 8:05 into the third period, grabbing an Aaron Ekblad rebound and beating Filip Gustavsson to make it 5-3.

Ekblad then set up Gus Forsling with a slick point-to-point pass to bring the Panthers back within a goal.

“We’re never out of a game,” Forsling said. “You could see that in the third [period]. We believe in ourselves, and we’re going to bring that to the next game.”  

But even after outpacing them 20-7 in scoring chances and 23-11 in shots, the Wild held on.

Ryan Hartman banked in the empty netter with 11.6 seconds to go after a flurry of chances on the other end.

“Resilience is part of this organization and culture here,” Ekblad said. 

“We tried to come back and fell short today.”

— Maurice did not have an update on Will Lockwood, who left the game in the first period after fighting South Florida native Brandon Duhaime in the first period.

Duhaime went after Lockwood after he came out of the box for colliding with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

Although Fleury initially stayed in the game, he left when the Panthers took time to pull Sergei Bobrovsky at 4-1 in the second.

Fleury has, what the Wild say, is an upper-body injury.

Sam Reinhart had an assist on Lundell’s goal — but his eight-game goal streak came to a close. He goes into Nashville with a nine-game scoring streak, however.

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ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS @ NASHVILLE PREDATORS 

  • When: Monday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville 
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5 FM-2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Season Series — At Nashville: Monday. At Florida: March 21.
  • Last Season: Nashville won 2-0
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Florida leads 21-14-6, 3 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Wednesday vs. Arizona Coyotes, 7 p.m.

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