The last time the Minnesota Wild won back-to-back games was just before the All-Star break in late January.

Before that it had not happened since the team won seven in a row and had the best record in the National Hockey League.

Thursday, the Wild won its second game in a row with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center.

The Wild (27-24-9) won in the shootout for the second time in its last eight tries and first such win since Jan. 10.

Erik Christiansen got the shootout started with his first shootout goal as a member of the Wild on a really nice backhand-to-forehand move for the eventual winner.

Matt Cullen scored the clinching goal by sliding the puck past Jose Theodore on a different backhand-to-forehand move.

After scoring early and blowing leads lately, the Wild allowed the Panthers to get on the board first with a power play goal by Mikael Samuelsson just 12 seconds into the man advantage late in the second period.

The Wild responded with a goal in the final minute of the period when Kyle Brodziak knocked a rebound past Theodore. Dany Heatley sent a pass to Marek Zidlicky, who broke his stick trying to one-time the pass.

The Wild took its first lead of the game early in the third period. Cullen knocked a rebound off a one-time shot by Heatley on the power play. One minute and 44 seconds of game time had elapsed between the two Wild goals.

The Wild led for nearly 14 and a half minutes before the Panthers tied the game with an even strength goal by Sean Bergenheim.

The Panthers (27-20-12) finished the game with a 43-28 edge in shots on goal, but the Wild had the better scoring chances in a back-and-forth game.

The Wild inched closer to the idle-Los Angeles Kings for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Wild now trail the Kings by three points and have one more game remaining.

Three Stars

No. 3 – Dany Heatley. The Wild forward recorded two assists.

No. 2 – Matt Cullen. The Wild forward scored a power play goal in the third period and a shootout goal.

No. 1 – Niklas Backstrom. The Wild goaltender stopped both shootout attempts and 41 shots in regulation and overtime.


Minnesota     0 1 1 0 – 3

Florida          0 1 1 0 – 2

       First Period – None. Penalties – Jovanovski, Fla (interference), 10:52; Versteeg, Fla (holding the stick), 16:51.

       Second Period – 1, Florida, Samuelsson 8 (Weiss, Fleischmann), 13:23 (pp). 2, Minnesota, Brodziak 16 (Zidlicky, Heatley), 19:40. Penalties – Schultz, Min (high sticking), 7:29; Setoguchi, Min (goaltender interference), 13:11.

       Third Period – 3, Minnesota, Cullen 13 (Heatley, Spurgeon), 1:14 (pp). 4, Florida, Bergenheim 13 (Campbell, Samuelsson), 15:48. Penalties – Weiss, Fla (tripping), :42; Zidlicky, Min (high sticking), 3:33.

       Overtime – None. Penalties – None.

       Shootout – Minnesota: Christiansen (goal), Cullen (goal). Florida: Versteeg (saved), Bergenheim (saved).

       Shots on goal – Minnesota 11-8-7-2 28. Florida 11-14-14-4 43.

       Goalies – Minnesota, Backstrom (41-43). Florida, Theodore (26-28). A – N/A. Referees – Justin St. Pierre, Brad Watson. Linesmen – Scott Driscoll, Pierre Racicot.