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Dave Campbell / AP Sports Writer, Published January 10 2012

Cullen leads Wild to victory

ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Wild watched a two-goal lead with a little more than three minutes remaining in regulation vanish.

Their response was enough evidence for coach Mike Yeo that his team’s moxie has returned after a rough skid right through the holidays.

Matt Cullen scored in the third period and in the first round of the shootout and put six shots on goal to help the Wild recover from a late stumble Tuesday night to beat San Jose 5-4 and stop the Sharks’ four-game winning streak.

Cullen, a former standout prep hockey player for Moorhead High School, played in his 1,000th career game on Tuesday.

“That was the team we were three weeks ago,” Yeo said.

The Wild went 1-8-3 after reaching the best record in the NHL and entered the night tied for 12th in the league and down to seventh in the Western Conference. This was just the third time in their last 13 games they scored more than two goals. For that, they got two big points.

“Boy, we needed that,” Cullen said, adding: “It’s time. We’ve struggled here for long enough, and you can’t afford to struggle too long in this league. Teams pass you by, and we see where we are in the standings. We want to climb.”

Their effort and energy was so strong Yeo didn’t even want to nitpick about the goals by Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau 22 seconds that tied the game with 2:44 remaining in regulation. Cullen had given the Wild a 4-2 lead with 6:20 left. But the Sharks outshot the Wild 18-8 in the third period, and Josh Harding had to make 34 saves.

“Because of what we put into that game, there’s this feeling and there’s a sense that you deserve it,” Yeo said.

San Jose 1 0 3 0 – 4

Minnesota 1 1 2 0 – 5

Minnesota won shootout 2-0

First period: 1, Minnesota, Clutterbuck 11 (Wellman, Zidlicky), 7:04. 2, San Jose, Boyle 3 (Marleau, Thornton), 16:08 (pp).

Second period: 3, Minnesota, W.Peters 1 (Falk, McIntyre), 13:26.

Third period: 4, Minnesota, Johnson 5 (Heatley, Falk), 7:42. 5, San Jose, Ferriero 5 (Vlasic, Boyle), 9:47. 6, Minnesota, Cullen 11 (Wellman, Clutterbuck), 13:40. 7, San Jose, Couture 17 (Burns, Boyle), 16:54. 8, San Jose, Marleau 16 (Thornton, Pavelski), 17:16.

Shootout – San Jose 0 (Handzus NG, Clowe NG), Minnesota 2 (Cullen G, Koivu G).

Shots on Goal – San Jose 8-7-18-5 – 38. Minnesota 10-11-8-2 – 31.

Goalies: San Jose, Niemi 18-7-5 (31 shots-27 saves). Minnesota, Harding 8-4-2 (38-34).

A – 18,986 (18,064). T – 2:47.