The Wild opened the 2007-08 home schedule with a streak of four victories. The fourth of those came on Oct. 21.

The Wild won 15 of the next 31 games at Xcel Energy Center. It took five months, plus a week, for the Wild to complete another four-game home winning streak.

The latest of those victories came on Friday night, with a 4-0 blowout of Vancouver.

St. Paul's heroes had back-to-back home victories over Los Angeles and Colorado in mid-March, then followed up Wednesday's impressive 3-1 victory over streaking Edmonton with this domination of the staggering Canucks.

The Wild now has a three-point lead and two more games played than Calgary, its only remaining rival for first place in the Northwest Division.

There's probably a banner that goes with that, although what matters is that winning a division guarantees a third seed in the West and the right to play games 1, 2, 5 and 7 at home in the first round.

The Wild had the look Friday of a team that has reached a peak at precisely the right time. If Jacques Lemaire's club can keep its game right where it was against the outclassed Canucks, this could turn into the first eventful spring for the franchise in five years.

The Canucks came out with the intention of trying to engage the Wild in one of those Western Conference bore-a-thons that generally result in someone winning a shootout.

This strategy worked for 10 minutes, and then the Wild went on a power play. Suddenly, there was life in what had been a dead arena. The Wild did not allow the puck to get out of the Vancouver zone for 91 seconds, until Pierre-Marc Bouchard picked his spot from the right point and beat Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo.

It was a shot that turned all the momentum to the Wild -- so much so that by the middle of the third period, Vancouver agitator Alex Burrows went after Bouchard with a spear and then a cross check.

This caused the 5-8 Bouchard to slash Burrows, then drop gloves for an honest-to-goodness fight. The short man landed as many punches as he caught and received the first fighting major of his NHL career.

"I was going to come out there and help you, Butchie, but you didn't need me," goalie Niklas Backstrom said later in the locker room.

Defenseman Kim Johnsson said: "I didn't know Butchie was that much of a fighter. He did good, though."

That was the overall review of the Wild on this night: It did good.

Playoff ready?

"We have talked a lot about tightening up defensively, with the playoffs coming," Johnsson said. "The last two games, we're not giving up many good chances."

The Wild had it going so well that Luongo was pulled after Todd Fedoruk's goal made it 4-0 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the second period.

You don't drive Luongo from a game often, right?

"Not at all," Johnsson said. "His wife had a baby in Florida yesterday. It's probably been a couple of tough days for him. And they got out of position in front of him a few times."

Mikko Koivu had an assist on Bouchard's opening goal, then scored to make it 2-0 late in the first period.

Koivu left Willie Mitchell, the former Wild defenseman, pushing at air before beating Luongo from in front of the crease. Poor Willie was on the ice for all four goals.

Koivu was asked about the first goal, where the Wild took control of the game by not allowing the puck to leave the Canucks' zone.

"That is a killer ... when you're out there for a long shift, the other team is moving the puck, and you can't get off the ice," he said.

Overall, was what the audience saw the Wild's "A" game?

"We did some good things tonight," Koivu said. "If you want me to say, 'This was our best game,' I can't do that. I think we are going in the right direction lately."

The direction is home ice for the first round of playoffs -- and the Wild on Friday looked like a team that can turn that into a substantial advantage.

Patrick Reusse can be heard weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP at 6:45 and 7:45 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. •