Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Wild wins shootout in Florida, looks to extend win streak to three in Dallas

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: February 24, 2012 - 11:54 AM

Gotten a lot of twitter questions: My guess after last night is the Wild comes back with Backstrom tonight because he's in such a groove. We'll find out for sure around 5 p.m. tonight. The Wild didn't have a morning skate.

Big two points for the Wild, which got rewarded for its hard work through 65 minutes by winning a shootout tonight.
Niklas Backstrom, who has been scrutinized over his lack of shootout success, stopped both shooters he faced after making 41 saves through OT. And, after the Panthers allowed the Wild to shoot first, Erik Christensen and Matt Cullen scored bang-bang.
The Wild won for the first time this season in eight tries in the front end of a back-to-back. It won consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 21-24. And most importantly, it’s three back of Jeff Carter and the LA Kings. However, it’s still behind the lineup of playoff contenders in 12th place.
Huge game in Dallas. The Wild hasn’t won there since 2003. But the Wild is 4-1-2 in the back end of back-to-backs and the Stars, who won in Chicago, are 0-9-2.
Other than the second period, the Wild played pretty well tonight and scored two greasy goals off Dany Heatley rebounds, the first by Kyle Brodziak, the second by Cullen.
Brodziak’s was huge because the Wild was out and out dominated in the second period. Just pinned in its zone for 18 minutes straight pretty much.
But the tying goal came with 19.8 seconds left. Then, Cullen made it 2-1 1:14 into the third. It was the fourth time in five games the power play connected.
You can read the game story for the details. Christensen talked about his struggles offensively and how he doesn’t want to be considered just a shootout specialist, but in his two goals so far with the Wild in the shootout and his one move in Dallas he missed on, we see why he’s one of the most talented shootout players around.
His 26th goal tied teammate Mikko Koivu for 6th all-time.
Darroll Powe had a nice, gritty game. Still without a point in 14 straight, but Theodore denied him four times, including in the final seconds. Powe also had six hits and three blocked shots.
Heatley has 14 points in his last 13 games and had six shots, two that turned into goals.
Chad Rau and Nate Prosser helped turned the momentum inside two minutes of the second. The Wild went 16 minutes without a shot, but they turned the tide and the Wild had seven of its eight second-period shots in the final 1:48
Cullen has goals in consecutive games for the first time since November and Brodziak ended a seven-game goal, point drought. He tied his career-high with his 16th goal in Game 60.
That’s it for me. Very quick blog because it’s 11:30 and I am staring head-on at a 3 a.m. wakeup call to catch up with the team in Dallas.
Barring news, there may be no blog until a couple hours before the game because there will be smatterings at the morning skate (if there is one) and we have access pre-game with players and Yeo.
I’ll be on KFAN at 5:55 p.m. 

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