1. Rostislav Olesz, Panthers: They couldn't give him away all summer, but he looked like a star Friday, creating chances and assisting on the winning goal.
2. Jose Theodore, Wild: Made 21 of his 25 saves in the first two periods.
3. Dennis Wideman, Panthers: Assist in 26 1/2 minutes, and saved a Cal Clutterbuck goal at the goal line.
From the Hockey Wilderness game recap:
This game was not as close as the score would lead one to believe, thanks in major part to Jose Theodore, who followed up a brilliant performance in Columbus with another tonight in Sunrise, Florida.
Minnesota found themselves down early thanks to defensive breakdowns by Greg Zanon and Marco Scandella on the Christopher Higgins goal and Cam Barker on the Michael Santorelli goal, with no forwards even close to backchecking. This is a two-game trend that needs to stop. Very unimpressive play from the backline. Hell, very unimpressive play overall for the Wild in the first, as they were outshot 13-8. Luckily though, Cal Clutterbuck continued to provide a spark, scoring on the power play to bring the Wild within one late in the first.
So yeah, five shots in the second period and only 1 until the 11 minute mark. Why this team cannot come out in the second period with any intensity is beyond me, but Jose Theodore provided the means for a third period comeback with his stellar play.
Hockey Wilderness Three Stars:
1.Jose Theodore (25 saves)
2.Christopher Higgins (1 G)
3.Cal Clutterbuck (1 G)
Does Jose Theodore follow up his great performance against the Blue Jackets with another strong showing tonight? He was fabulous. 25 saves, many of the "difficult" variety and he single-handedly kept the Wild in the game.
From The State of Hockey News:
"On the power play the Wild struggled against an aggressive and challenging Panthers' penalty kill, most notably the strong forechecking pressure of Chris Higgins who nearly scored shorthanded after dangling around Matt Cullen but was bailed out by two fine saves by Theodore."
In the 2nd, José really kept the team in it: "The Wild got the big early kill, but just as the power play ended, Florida had a great scoring chance as Shawn Matthias was stonewalled by a great close-in save by Theodore. The Panthers were really applying some serious pressure near the Wild rease as Steve Bernier and Higgins took the puck to the Wild crease where Theodore used his stick to make another big save early in the period. Florida continued to dominate time of possession as they seemed to be on a constant power play moving with relative impunity as a very tired Wild 4th line tried to defend against the speedy Panthers forwards. The Panthers would have another fine scoring chance as Bryan Allen stepped into a slapper that was fought off by Theodore as he had a puck bearing down on his head being just able to block the puck out of harm's way. A few minutes later Florida had a 3-on-2 chance that ultimately ended up on the stick of Frolik in the high slot and his wrister would be deflected up and over the goal by the stick of Theodore."
"You certainly could not blame Jose Theodore for the outcome, as he made 25 saves in the loss. He kept Minnesota in the game at many points when it never should have been. Defensively he was at times victimized by lazy play or just inexperience as Marco Scandella looked like a deer in headlights most of the game."