The Minnesota Wild broke the game open in the second period of its 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center.

The defending Western Conference champions got on the board early in the first (less than three minutes into the game), but did nothing after.

The Wild (6-3-3) took the game over in the second with a pair of goals 21 seconds apart to tie and then take the lead.

Guillaume Latendresse got the scoring started with a backhand shot that glanced off Canuck goaltender Cory Schneider and into the net at 4:47 of the period.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard came right back and put the Wild ahead for good with slap shot over the shoulder of Schneider.

The Wild later extended its lead to 3-1 on a slap shot by Marco Scandella at the 17:05 mark of the second period.

Matt Cullen sealed the game with a pair of goals in the third period. He now has a team-leading six goals.

The Wild dominated play for nearly the entire game and held a 45-25 shots on goal advantage.

The Canucks (6-6-1) only goal came from a defenseman, who was at the top of the crease, who banged a loose puck into an open net behind Wild goaltender Josh Harding.

Harding had a solid game. It wasn’t as good as his previous starts, but those performances were extraordinary for any goaltender.

The referees nearly lost control of the game when Canuck Dan Hamhuis ducked a check by Cal Clutterbuck, then proceeded to stand over him. While being taunted Clutterbuck was grabbed from behind and grappled with Maxim Lapierre. All three were given 10-minute misconducts with just over five minutes remaining. Somehow, the Wild came out of it shorthanded as Kyle Brodziak was given a roughing penalty for getting the third player (Hamhuis) in the scrap off the pile.

The win moves the Wild into second place (one point behind the Edmonton Oilers) in the Northwest Division and fourth in the Western Conference.

Three Stars

No. 3 – Guillaume Latendresse. The Wild forward got the scoring started for the Wild.

No. 2 – Pierre-Marc Bouchard. The Wild forward scored the game-winning goal and added two assists.

No. 1 – Matt Cullen. The Wild forward scored his team-leading fifth and sixth goals of the season and was very good on draws (13-of-17; 76 percent). He also recorded an assist on Bouchard’s game-winner.

Boxscore

Canucks     1 0 0 – 1

Wild           0 3 2 – 5

     First Period – 1, Vancouver, Hamhuis 1 (Burrows, D. Sedin), 2:20. Penalties – Latendresse, Min (high sticking), 11:20.

     Second Period – 2, Minnesota, Latendresse 2 (Zidlicky), 4:47. 3, Minnesota, Bouchard 1 (Cullen, Spurgeon), 5:08. 4, Minnesota, Scandella 2 (Brodziak, Gillies), 17:05. Penalties – D. Sedin, Van (hooking), :38; Staubitz, Min, major (fighting), 3:55; Volpatti, Van, major (fighting), 3:55; Booth, Van (hooking), 6:33; Clutterbuck, Min (tripping), 8:29; Schultz, Min (delay of game), 19:09.

     Third Period – 5, Minnesota, Cullen 5 (Bouchard, Schultz), 6:08. 6, Minnesota, Cullen 6 (Setoguchi, Bouchard), 17:54. Penalties – Latendresse, Min (tripping), 2:53; H. Sedin, Van (hooking), 12:33; Lapierre, Van (misconduct), 14:41; Hamhuis, Van (misconduct), 14:41; Clutterbuck, Min (misconduct), 14:41; Brodziak, Min (roughing), 14:41.

     Shots on goal – Vancouver 8-8-9 25. Minnesota 12-22-11 45.

     Goalies – Vancouver, Schneider (40-45). Minnesota, Harding (24-25). A – 16,534. Referees – Ghislain Hebert, Tim Peel. Linesmen – Darren Gibbs, Derek Nansen.