Florida Panthers

Panthers fail to snap drought at Wild’s arena

A shot goes wide past Minnesota Wild’s Mikael Granlund, left, of Finland, as Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo defends the net in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild won 2-1.
A shot goes wide past Minnesota Wild’s Mikael Granlund, left, of Finland, as Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo defends the net in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015, in St. Paul, Minn. The Wild won 2-1. AP

The Xcel Energy Center is one of the nicest and cleanest buildings in the NHL, but for the Panthers and Roberto Luongo, it may as well be the county dump.

Aside from pulling off a couple trades here at the draft a few years back, Florida hasn’t done much in this building and its losing ways continued with Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the host Wild.

The Panthers have won just one of eight games played here since the Wild’s expansion season in 2000 and are one of two teams to never get a regulation win in the building.

Minnesota has won seven of eight as Florida’s four-game point streak came to an end. The Panthers went 0-2 against the Wild this season.

“It’s fun to play in front of your friends and family, so that’s pretty cool,’’ said Nick Bjugstad, a Minneapolis native who scored a goal in Minnesota for the first time since his days with the Gophers in the second period.

“It’s fun playing in this building but it’s better with a win. It’s a tough building to play in; Minnesota fans are passionate. They’re into it. It’s a good atmosphere for them.’’

As for Luongo, the Xcel Center has been such a tough place to play for him the Canucks decided to just stop playing him here despite their many visits to the “State of Hockey.’’

Thursday’s start was Luongo’s first since 2010 after Vancouver pulled him in three of his final four starts with the Canucks in the building.

“I don’t think about that stuff, more gets made out of it by the media,’’ Luongo said. “I don’t particularly care about the past. It’s a rink, same as any other. This was a close game. I would have liked to tie it up, but we weren’t able to.’’

Thursday, Luongo (21 saves) didn’t get much help on Minnesota’s first goal as Jason Pominville deflected a puck off his skate and Zach Parise got his by shoving Dmitry Kulikov out of the way in front of the net before banging a loose puck through.

The Panthers got back in the game when Bjugstad, the hometown boy, charged up the right side of the ice and threw a shot up at Devan Dubnyk (26 saves).

The puck caught the top of the cage and went past Dubnyk’s shoulder to cut Florida’s deficit in half.

“You have to just fire away,’’ Bjugstad said. “They’re a good team, play well defensively. We could have come out with a better effort.’’

Florida had plenty of opportunities after Bjugstad’s goal and didn’t cash in on a four-minute power play (which was cut in half when Aleksander Barkov took a penalty of his own) as well as a late gift penalty when Kulikov fell on his own.

Despite having six skaters to Minnesota’s four in the final moments, Florida couldn’t connect and failed to pick up two points on the idle Bruins.

The Panthers remain four points back of Boston for the final playoff spot in the East.

“We could have applied a little more pressure in some areas,’’ Brian Campbell said. “We did some good things, but good things don’t get you points. We need points right now.’’

PIRRI OUT

Neither Brandon Pirri nor Willie Mitchell flew with the team for this short road trip.

Pirri hurt his shoulder during his opening shift in Tuesday’s win over Anaheim with coach Gerard Gallant saying he’s out at least two weeks.

The timing of Pirri’s injury couldn’t have been worse as he’s been on an offensive tear with six goals in the previous eight games.

Before sustaining a concussion on Oct.30, Pirri had goals in three consecutive games.

“He’s proven he can play and deserves his ice time,’’ Gallant said.

Mitchell has missed the past four games with an undisclosed injury but could be back next week.

▪ Bjugstad was the most sought-after player at Thursday’s morning skate as the Minneapolis native spent more than 20 minutes fulfilling various media requests.

Friday: Panthers at Stars

When/where: 8:30 p.m.; American Airlines Center, Dallas.

TV/radio: FSFL; WQAM 560’

Series: Florida leads 13-11-3.

Noteworthy: This is the first meeting of the season between the two with the Panthers winning the past three, including both games last year.

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