SUNRISE, Fla. — Jaromir Jagr had two shots on goal Sunday night and that was enough to extend Florida’s record-setting run.
The victory was the ninth in a row for Florida and seventh straight at home, both franchise records. The nine-game winning streak ties Montreal, Washington and the New York Rangers for the longest in the NHL this season.
With the game tied 1-all in the third, Jagr took a long diagonal pass along the right boards from Brandon Pirri after Minnesota was caught with three players behind the Florida net.
Jagr kept control of the puck, weaved to the high slot and whistled a shot past goalie Devan Dubnyk for his team-leading 13th goal at 8:52.
“Sometimes you don’t have your best game, but you just have to find a way to do it,” Jagr said after scoring his NHL-record 132nd game-winning goal. “I didn’t feel good about my game (last night). I just wanted to make sure it went better today.”
The 43-year-old Jagr has 735 goals, six behind Brett Hull for third on the league’s career list.
Montoya was strong in winning his fourth consecutive game, one night after Roberto Luongo stopped 40 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Rangers.
Florida goalies stopped 78 of 79 shots in the weekend’s two wins.
“I feel good. For me, it’s about giving this team a chance to win every single night. It doesn’t matter what the score is; it’s about making that one extra save that I have to,” said Montoya, who improved to 6-1-1.
Florida swept its six-game homestand.
“There were some tough teams during this (streak). I thought we outplayed the other team in every game except tonight,” coach Gerard Gallant said.
Florida’s 14-3-0 run entering the game was led by a defence that was among the NHL’s stingiest, allowing just 28 goals in the last 17 games.
Jagr and the offence, however, put the Panthers in front early.
Kulikov set up Jagr in the first period by keeping the puck in the offensive zone and sending a pass down low. Jagr slipped a backhander that found its way between Dubnyk’s legs.
“As long as I’ve been around, even before I was in the league, I was a young kid watching him and he found a way to do it,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “I’m not too surprised.”
The goal, just 27 seconds into the game, was Florida’s fastest this season. Jagr scored 51 seconds in on Dec. 10 against Washington.
Just as Florida did in the first period, Minnesota scored in the opening minute of the second to tie it.
Zucker took a pass from Koivu and tried to stuff it past Montoya. Zucker then found his rebound and poked it in for his 10th goal only 48 seconds into the period.
“It’s too bad,” Yeo said. “Actually, it was one of our better road games, but obviously we didn’t put the puck in the net and came away short-handed.”
Florida forward Nick Bjugstad, the club’s top goal scorer last season and points producer two years ago, returned to the Panthers’ lineup after missing 15 games.
The Minnesota native and former star at the University of Minnesota centred a line with Pirri and Logan Shaw, logging 11:08 of ice time.
NOTES: The Wild scratched forwards Erik Haula and Jordan Schroeder (sent to AHL affiliate Iowa earlier in the day) along with defenceman Tyson Strachan, who played 53 games for Florida from 2011-13. … With G Darcy Kuemper (concussion) on injured reserve, Niklas Backstrom again served as Dubnyk’s backup. The 37-year-old Backstrom hasn’t played in a game since Jan. 13, 2015. … The two assists by Kulikov gave him 101 for his career. … Florida captain Willie Mitchell, 38, played in his 900th NHL game.