1. After some firewagon hockey with the game knotted at 4 in the third period, the Wild wrested control before Zach Parise scored the winner with 5:07 left.
"Both teams kept coming back and you just never knew," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "It was an entertaining game but it's one of those that make coaches' hearts stop."
Defenseman Jonas Brodin got the winning play started when Panthers goaltender James Reimer couldn't control his shot from the point cleanly. After the puck appeared to slip through his arm, it rolled around in the blue paint for what seemed like an eternity, until Parise was Johnny on the Spot, cleaning up the loose change for his 16th goal.
Video: MIN@FLA: Parise pushes in rolling puck for lead
For Parise, it was his eighth goal and 11th point over his past 19 games and fourth game-winner of the season.
Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle added empty netters in the final 1:10 to ice the victory.
Combined with Chicago's 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday, Minnesota (43-17-6) will head to United Center to continue its road trip with a three-point cushion over the Blackhawks. The Wild and Hawks play in The Windy City on Sunday morning (11:30 a.m. CT) for the fourth and final time during the regular season.
2. Eric Staal became the fourth Wild player to reach the 20-goal plateau this season when he knotted the game at 2 midway through the second.
The goal came as a reward for a fantastic shift by Staal, who first managed to force a turnover along the left-wing half wall -- a gift from the outstanding Aaron Ekblad, no less -- before heading straight for the front of the net.
Nino Niederreiter, who had gathered in the turnover, fired a perfect net-front pass to Staal for a tap in.
Video: MIN@FLA: Staal taps in Niederreiter's centering feed
For Staal, it was the 10th time in his 13 NHL seasons that he reached the 20-goal marker. He would add another later in the game to give him 21 goals and 50 points this season.
"Physically, I feel pretty good. I went through a stretch there where, physically, I was fighting it a little bit, pace and speed wise," Staal said. "My game is so much about power and speed and being tenacious. I feel pretty good after that break, getting back on the attack."
As noted earlier, Staal became the fourth Wild player to reach 20 this season, putting Minnesota one short of the team record of five set in 2006-07.
Mikko Koivu (18) and Parise (16) would appear to give the Wild its best shot of tying and/or exceeding that record over the final 16 games of the regular season.
Video: MIN@FLA: Staal chips second goal of game past Reimer
3. Minnesota got the start it wanted, getting a goal from Jason Zucker to get on the board first, but was unable to build on the momentum.
After allowing the first goal in each of the past two games (and four of the past five since returning from the bye week), the Wild jumped out in front at 7:50 of the opening period when Zucker deflected a shot from the point by Brodin.
Video: MIN@FLA: Zucker deflects Brodin's slapper past Reimer
"We wanted to come out and get that first goal. We thought that was huge for us," Zucker said.
The teams traded chances over the next five minutes before the Panthers (29-26-11) got the game's first power play at 14:15. It didn't take long -- seven seconds to be exact -- to capitalize when a loose puck in the crease bounced in off defenseman Ryan Suter and past goaltender Darcy Kuemper tying the game at 1.
"Yeah, [I thought it was a good start] but then we sat back a bit and took the foot off the gas and they kept coming there in the first period," Boudreau said. "That team is extremely fast. They didn't quit."
Florida continued to push after that, getting a goal from Mark Pysyk with under two minutes left in the first to take a one-goal lead into intermission.
"I thought we came out really well," Parise said. "We were down 2-1 after the first, but we were really happy, outside of the score, with how we had played and just kept moving from there."
The Wild jumped out to a 9-3 shots edge through the initial moments of the first period, but Florida poured it on late, finishing the frame with a 15-14 advantage after 20 minutes.
"They made a push. Good teams are going to do that," Zucker said.
• Wild defenseman Gustav Olofsson missed the game with an upper-body injury sustained on Thursday in Tampa.
• Seven Wild players posted multi-point games: Coyle, Parise, Staal, Zucker, Brodin, Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville.
• Martin Hanzal tallied his 200th NHL assist on Pominville's second-period goal.
• Darcy Kuemper made 25 saves through two periods before being lifted for Devan Dubnyk to start the third.
• Dubnyk stopped 11 of 12 shots in the third to earn his 36th win, tying his career best from two seasons ago.
• Marco Scandella earned the first assist on Staal's second goal. He has two goals and three assists over his past eight games.
• Reimer made 39 saves as the Wild posted a season-high 46 shots on goal.
• Attendance: 16,232
He said it
"I thought we played well. We didn't play very well the last two [games] but I think that means we've set the standard pretty high when it feels like panic sets in when we've lost two in a row. That means we're doing some good things this year." -- Wild forward Zach Parise
Video: Locker Room Postgame at Florida
They said it
"Obviously it could have gone both ways, but we always manage to find a way to not win hockey games ... It's a bad game defensively. Everybody needs to help each other and try to pick each other up. We need to turn that boat around." -- Panthers forward Jonathan Marchessault
Dan's three stars
* Eric Staal
** Zach Parise
*** Charlie Coyle