ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Minnesota rookie goalie Josh Harding will
be sad to see the NHL season end in a few days.
On Tuesday night, Harding made 27 saves in his second NHL start
and Stephane Veilleux scored the deciding goal on a third-period
breakaway in the Wild's 2-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on
It has been a perfect start for Harding, who beat St. Louis in a
shootout last week in his NHL debut.
"To get my first win in a shootout and now get a shutout, you
can't write a better book than that," said Harding, expected to
play for the Wild's Houston minor league team in the AHL playoffs.
"It makes the game easy when you're in the right position, but
this is a great feeling and definitely something big to get off my
Pierre-Marc Bouchard added an empty-net goal with 1:11 remaining
to help the Wild win for the fifth time in their last seven games.
Chicago, which has lost five of its last six, has lost 40 of 41
games by two goals or less this season.
"I don't think our power play generated enough quality chances
from the start," Blackhawks coach Trent Yawney said. "They've got
the best penalty kill in the league, so you've got to work for
loose pucks. It wasn't our best night, obviously."
Veilleux scored after a Chicago turnover midway through the
third, with Brian Rolston chipping the puck out of the Chicago zone
to Veilleux, who had gotten loose behind defender Brent Seabrook.
Veilleux caught up to the puck at the blue line, corralled it and
came straight in on goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. The Wild forward
faked a backhand shot before tucking the puck past the goalie's
"It was a good play by Brian, and I just skated hard to finally
get a breakaway," Veilleux said. "Then I just made a right and
left move to put it in."
It was the seventh goal of the season for Veilleux, who was
ejected from the game less than a minute later after a fight with
Chicago's Radim Vrbata.
"He was intense and skated well," Minnesota coach Jacques
Lemaire said. "This is exactly what we expected from Veilleux all
year. The last 10 games he's been playing well and getting some
Khabibulin had 20 saves for the Blackhawks, who were shut out
for the third time this season -- all of them on the road.
"It seems we couldn't get anything going," Blackhawks captain
Martin Lapointe said. "In this league, if you can't get your power
play going, you won't win games."
Minnesota was outshot in the opening two periods, but had best
scoring chances. Veilleux hit the post with a turnaround shot in
the opening minute of the game, and Kyle Wanvig appeared to have a
clear shot at the Blackhawks net after a turnover late in the
period, before Khabibulin thwarted him with a glove save.
^Notes:@ Minnesota, which boasts the NHL's top penalty kill, held
the Blackhawks scoreless on seven power plays, including a 5-minute
power play in the third period. Chicago has the league's worst road
power play. ... It was the last home game of the season for the
Wild, who will miss the playoffs for the fourth time in their five
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Xcel Energy Center Location: Saint Paul, Minnesota
Referees: Gord Dwyer, Rob Martell Linesmen: Pierre Champoux, Steve Miller