VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - Seven games into the season, the Wild has yet to win consecutive games. That was the message and reminder before Friday's practice at the University of British Columbia.
A night earlier, Dany Heatley scored the tying goal with 1.2 seconds left and Matt Cullen and Niklas Backstrom helped pull out a shootout victory at Edmonton. It was a shocking, last-second victory, one the Wild hopes to build off, not throw away for naught.
"Sometimes you can look back at the end of the season and say, 'This was the big moment, this was the turning point,' " Cullen said. "How we respond [Saturday against Vancouver] will make the Oilers game either a big moment or just another game.
"This doesn't cover up that there were areas that weren't as good as they need to be. But at the same time, that could be a win that we can build off and turn into something meaningful."
Coach Mike Yeo has not liked how the Wild has responded after its previous two victories. So he stressed Friday the importance of playing the right way against the Canucks and, particularly, starting the right way.
"We can't just come out and test the waters and see what Vancouver brings to us," Yeo said.
Heatley said it's imperative the Wild forgets about the win and moves on.
"We can't celebrate," Heatley said. "We have another big test [Saturday] against a very good team. We'd like to win both games on the road trip and get back home."
Cullen a good fit
Cullen continues to be one of the Wild's best forwards through the season's first two weeks. He leads with three goals, has another three shootout goals and fit in perfectly with Heatley and Devin Setoguchi after Mikko Koivu was lost in the third period Thursday because of a cut.
"He's done that all year for us, so that's what I've come to expect from Matt. He's set the bar pretty high," Yeo kidded.
Yeo was overjoyed by Heatley's goal, his first since opening night.
"That's what those guys do. They score big goals at big times. That's what he's done his whole life, and that's why he's here," Yeo said. "I was really happy for him to get that one because he's been pressing. He's been doing everything he can to help the team win."
Defenseman Greg Zanon (groin) and left winger Guillaume Latendresse (lower body) missed Friday's practice and are questionable for Saturday. Yeo indicated that if the injuries linger, the team may opt to hold them out and let them rest, with no game until Thursday at home against Anaheim.
If Zanon can't play, Justin Falk will make his season debut. If Latendresse can't play, Nick Johnson will likely play.
Several Wild players said Oilers coach Tom Renney's timeout with 21 seconds left allowed the exhausted Wild to rest before Heatley's winner. Heatley was especially gassed. In fact, when the ref came over to the Wild bench to notify them of the timeout, Yeo thought he was going to get yelled at for intentionally stalling, or as Yeo said sarcastically, "trying to give instructions as quickly as I could."