Wild suddenly becomes an offensive juggernaut

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 4, 2011 - 1:02 PM

Led by Matt Cullen, with lines shuffled, pucks rained down on the defending conference champs in record-setting fashion.

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It took 12 games for Mike Yeo to hammer the message into the heads of his stubborn players: Shoot ... the ... darn ... puck.

After an opening month in which the Wild seemed allergic to shooting, the Wild popped a double dose of Claritin and Zyrtec on Thursday night to assault the Vancouver Canucks with a shooting gallery during a 5-1 outburst and its third victory in a row.

The season-high goal total came off 45 shots, a franchise record for a home game, including 22 in the second period.

Guillaume Latendresse, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Marco Scandella scored second-period goals to rally the Wild from a 1-0 deficit.

During a two-goal, one-assist, nine-shot performance, Matt Cullen was a force in all three zones and in every situation. Bouchard added two assists, and Josh Harding made 24 saves in his third of what will surely be four consecutive starts.

"After two big emotional wins against Detroit, you maybe wonder what you're going to get," Cullen said. "We had a really solid 60-minute effort. Hards was unbelievable again, all four lines were rolling, the D were good.

"It was a big response for a team that is trying to build and get better. Instead of taking a step back, we take a step forward."

Yeo tweaked his top two lines, flipping Latendresse and Devin Setoguchi so Latendresse could play with Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley, and Setoguchi with Bouchard and Cullen.

One line is built on size and power, one on speed. Both changes fulfilled Yeo's desired effect -- offense.

"Every line was going as waves," said Latendresse, who tied the score on a slick backhand early in the second. "We need to keep in mind that when we play hard, we can beat every team."

Twenty-one seconds after Latendresse, Setoguchi outworked two Canucks and Cullen set up Bouchard's first goal of the season. Later, Scandella made it 3-1 by letting go a howitzer as if Kyle Brodziak had left his pass on a tee.

For a change, the Wild -- kings of the one-goal game -- had breathing room. "We didn't want just one goal, two goals," Scandella said.

The Wild kept firing pucks, creating offensive-zone time, breakdowns and momentum.

"What I liked is we didn't let our foot off the gas," Yeo said. "We continued to go at them, we continued to play our system, we continued to attack and get to the offensive zone and shoot pucks.

"When you do that, that's how three goals turn into five goals."

It was utter domination, even in the first, when the Wild trailed 1-0 only because of Cory Schneider's 12 saves. The Wild took the first 11 shots of the second and 26 by the halfway mark (one more than its season average in a game).

The Canucks coughed up pucks left and right thanks to several suffocating Wild forechecks.

"We lost 5-1, and our best player by far was our goaltender," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "That about sums it up right there."

Added seven-year defenseman Kevin Bieksa, "This was probably the worst performance I've been a part of in this jersey."

The Wild got contributions from everybody.

Fourth-liner Colton Gillies had hop in his step. Darroll Powe was a penalty-kill mainstay. Marek Zidlicky responded with a plus-4 a day after Yeo sternly talked to him. Cal Clutterbuck had six hits, Heatley seven shots.

"Our challenge is going to be to come back next game and do the things we did tonight," Yeo said. "I'm sure Vancouver is in there saying they didn't play well, but I believe we did a lot of things to make them feel that."

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