Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 1/31/13
ST. PAUL, Minn. When the Minnesota Wild went on their summer shopping spree to land big-name free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, fans of the team envisioned long playoff runs, Stanley Cups and parades down the streets of St. Paul. All of the hype surrounding Parise and Suter overshadowed one important fact. The first step for Minnesota is getting back into the playoffs, after going four years since its last postseason appearance. While the Wild have been basking in the spotlight created by the additions of Parise and Suter, perennial playoff teams like the Chicago Blackhawks were setting themselves up for another Cup run. Only 12 days into this sprint of a season, Chicago had raced out to a 6-0-0 record and established themselves among a trio of dominating teams in the Western Conference along with the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues. Minnesota, still adjusting somewhat to its new mix, entered Wednesday night leading the Northwest Division with a 3-2-1 record. The Wild are still trying to meet the expectations set when Parise and Suter arrived, but Wednesday's 3-2 shootout win against the Blackhawks shows Minnesota might just have the pieces to match up with the West's best. "That's a team who won the cup a couple years ago," said goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who came on in relief Wednesday and saved all 28 shots he faced and stopped two of Chicago's three attempts in the shootout. "It's a playoff team every year. We're not a playoff team. We want to be a playoff team. 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. But there's still some areas that we need to be better in and work on that." Playing on the second night of a back-to-back while Chicago was in town waiting for the Wild, Minnesota got scoring from its second and third lines -- a year-long struggle -- and outlasted the Blackhawks after Parise and Matt Cullen scored in the shootout and Backstrom stopped an attempt by Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp fired the final shot off the goal post to give the Wild back-to-back wins. In two of the past three games, Minnesota has gone to overtime against Chicago and St. Louis. Sunday in St. Louis, the Wild lost in overtime to the Blues, who haven't lost at home this season. Wednesday was another overtime affair against the Blackhawks, who entered Wednesday with 12 points tied with San Jose for best total in the NHL. Winning early against Chicago, on national TV, gives Minnesota even more reason to believe in what has been built. "We have high expectations for this team and there's a difference between expectations and results," Cullen said. "So for us to come out on the second night of a back-to-back and get a win against a very good team, who's playing extremely well, it's important for us. 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. It's not just talk. It's not just on paper. It's getting some results." The Wild feel they've been tested early. After opening the season with consecutive home wins, Minnesota lost at home against Nashville and then went to Detroit for the first road game and lost an intense 5-3 penalty-filled game. After Sunday's overtime loss at St. Louis, the Wild returned home winless in the past three games and Parise's line with Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley had scored 10 of the team's 13 goals. Consecutive wins and balanced efforts have changed the tone. Taking two of the league's top teams to overtime, one on the road, and pulling out a win against Chicago has maybe made an early-season statement. "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," Yeo said. "Scratch that: We can beat anybody" If Minnesota can prove that, maybe parades are on the way after all. Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Packers ‘being smart’ with Jordy Nelson’s return

Mets refusing to skip Harvey despite another poor start

Tony Romo on ‘supportive’ Jerry Jones: He’s ‘like a dad’

NFL owners: Concussion issues need to be explained better

Eagles OC: Sam Bradford not guaranteed starting job

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Draymond Green on recent play: ‘I’ve been awful’

Report: Stephen Curry’s knee is ’70 percent at best’

Andre Roberson felt ‘disrespected’ by Warriors

Steve Kerr dismisses question about Steph Curry being injured

WATCH: Draymond Green trips Thunder opponent

Craig Sager to receive Jimmy V Award for Perseverance

The NBA’s five most tortured playoff teams

Arizona Cardinals want Tom Brady to play Week 1

Does Adam Silver want a team back in Seattle?

Five downtrodden NBA teams ready to surge

Puig benched for not hustling, cracks Don Mattingly joke

Buffalo Bills’ laughable media policy will only hurt themselves

Larry Fitzgerald wouldn't shed tears if Brady misses Pats-Cardinals

Report: Tech billionaire Peter Thiel funding Hulk Hogan's Gawker lawsuit

Charles Barkley: 'I’ve never seen the NBA as bad as it is'

NFL owners vote to tweak instant replay for 2016 season

Is Kris Bryant becoming an elite defender?

Over half of Finland watched the World Championship gold medal game

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The five most disappointing MLB teams this season

QUIZ: Identify these NHL Hall of Famers by their nicknames

QUIZ: Name every winner of the Belmont Stakes since 1867

Sniping quotes highlight NHL conference finals animosity

QUIZ: Name every NBA franchise's original incarnation

The 15 biggest playoff upsets in NBA history

Cy Young Award contenders at the quarter mark of the season

QUIZ: Name the NHL franchises that have never won the Stanley Cup

How the goalies stack up in the Stanley Cup Conference Finals

Ranking the four potential NBA Finals matchups

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker