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Dave Campbell / Associated Press, Published January 30 2013

Cullen helps Wild hand Blackhawks first loss

ST. PAUL – The unbeaten Chicago Blackhawks gave the Minnesota Wild a significant early season test of their upgraded team.

They held up quite well, from the early goalie switch to the late-game fatigue.

Matt Cullen scored 90 seconds into the game and again in a shootout to lift the Wild to a 3-2 victory on Wednesday, the first loss in seven games for the Blackhawks.

“Games like this are how you build confidence in what you’re doing as a team and start getting that belief that – you know what? – we can be a good team,” said Cullen, who was scoreless in the first six games. “It’s not just talk. It’s not just on paper. It’s getting some results.”

Cullen’s snap shot in the third round slipped between Corey Crawford’s legs, and Chicago’s Patrick Sharp then hit the crossbar. The Blackhawks and San Jose were the only teams to start 6-0 this year.

The Wild improved to 4-1 at home, enjoying significant production from their second and third lines for the second straight night after a slow start by anyone not named Zach Parise, Dany Heatley or Mikko Koivu. The first line scored 10 of their first 13 goals, until Tuesday’s win over Columbus.

“We’re not there yet by any means, but this team has shown that when we’re playing our game we can play with anybody. Scratch that: We can beat anybody,” coach Mike Yeo said. “We spent very little time tonight talking about Chicago. This game was about ourselves.”

Goals by Andrew Shaw and Jonathan Toews early in the first period prompted the Wild to pull goalie Josh Harding for Niklas Backstrom. But Cal Clutterbuck also scored for the Wild, and Backstrom stopped all 28 shots he saw to help his tired teammates get to overtime.

“We’re not a playoff team. We want to be a playoff team,” Backstrom said. “You measure yourself against the best. You see what they do. We know there’s a lot of hard work ahead of us, and for sure it gives us confidence you can play against these guys.”

Crawford, off to a sharp start in his third season as Chicago’s primary goalie, made 23 saves for Chicago

“That’s a great start, but the best thing about that is that we’re doing a great job of putting the last game behind us and just getting ready for the next one,” Toews said. “That’s what we’ve got to keep doing.”

Chicago 2 0 0 0 – 2

Minnesota 1 1 0 0 – 3

Minnesota won shootout 2-1

First period: 1, Minnesota, Cullen 1 (Setoguchi, Granlund), 1:30. 2, Chicago, Shaw 1 (Bickell, Kane), 5:14. 3, Chicago, Toews 4 (Hossa), 6:45.

Second period: 4, Minnesota, Clutterbuck 1 (Gilbert), :59.

Shootout – Chicago 1 (Toews G, Kane NG, Sharp NG), Minnesota 2 (Parise G, Koivu NG, Cullen G).

Shots on Goal – Chicago 7-8-11-6 – 32. Minnesota 15-4-2-4 – 25.

Goalies: Chicago, Crawford 5-0-1 (25 shots-23 saves). Minnesota, Harding (4-2), Backstrom 3-1-1 (6:46 first, 28-28).

A – 18,550 (17,954). T – 2:44.