SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers continued their home dominance Saturday night with Frank Vatrano scoring twice and Sergei Bobrovsky making 32 saves in a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild.
The Panthers have won their first 10 home games of the 2021-22 season — the second-longest such streak to start off in NHL history.
Florida is the first two win its first 10 home games since the 2016-17 Montreal Canadiens.
The NHL record of 11 consecutive home wins was set in 1963 by the Blackhawks; Florida could tie that Wednesday with a victory against the Flyers.
Florida had the early lead Saturday night thanks to an absolutely stunning piece of stickwork from Aaron Ekblad.
After a couple big hits from Vatrano (one taken, one given out), he got the puck to Ekblad who worked into the Wild zone. Ekblad was able to split defenders Jon Merrill and former teammate Dmitry Kulikov.
Ekblad got wrapped up but somehow left the puck for the trailing Owen Tippett who walked in on goalie Cam Talbot and backhanded a pretty shot.
In the second, Ekblad came close to making it 2-0 after striking iron.
Instead, it was Vatrano who did the honors, firing off a wrist shot from the left circle.
After Minnesota cut the lead in half when Joel Eriksson El scored from in front, Vatrano struck again by jumping all over a loose puck off a Gus Forsling rebound with 5:10 left in the second.
The Wild made it a one-goal affair again early in the third on a nice play by last season’s rookie of the year Kirill Kaprizov.
Florida extended it again at 5:42 when Carter Verhaeghe flew through the slot, got under Kulikov and somehow short-sticked a shot past Talbot.
It looked like the Panthers made it 5-2 when Jonathan Huberdeau worked Talbot over after another nice pass from Forsling.
But, after review, it was determined Forsling was offside — did he have possession of the puck?
The goal was taken off the board.
Minnesota made it a one-goal game again with 45.1 seconds remaining when Jordan Greenway jammed a loose puck past Bobrovsky. Toronto took a look at it to see if the play was offside and it was not.
Moments after, however, Sam Bennett put one into the empty net with 36.4 seconds left and that was just about that.
Minnesota did score in the final seconds but this one was over.
The Panthers are now 6-2-3 under interim head coach Andrew Brunette — who is now 1-0 against the Wild.
Brunette spent a good portion of his playing career with Minnesota and was with the Wild from 2013-19 in a number of capacities.
GR’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Frank Vatrano, Florida
2. Gus Forsling, Florida
3. Aaron Ekblad, Florida