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Harding sharp again as Wild win ninth straight

Mar 25, 2007 - 5:32 AM
ST. PAUL, Minnesota (Ticker) -- Rookie Josh Harding has not been called upon often by the Minnesota Wild, but he has been superb when given a chance.

Harding made 31 saves in just his third start of the season and Brian Rolston had a goal and an assist as the Wild extended their franchise-record winning streak to nine games with a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.

Mikko Koivu also scored a goal and set up another and Todd White added two assists for Minnesota (45-24-7), which moved one point ahead of idle Vancouver (45-23-6) for first place in the Northwest Division.

"We feel good about how we've been playing," White said. "We're getting strong goaltending that enables us to make a few mistakes and not pay for them. When you get that, it makes it a lot easier to have confidence playing."

A second-round pick in 2002, the 22-year-old Harding improved to 3-0-1 with one shutout and three goals allowed in his three starts this campaign. He turned aside each of the first 19 shots he faced in this one before yielding a tally by Dustin Brown 14 seconds into the third period.

"They had a lot of shots, but our defensemen did a great job keeping everything to the outside and clearing rebounds," Harding said.

"We had quite a few quality chances, more than they did, I think," Brown said. "But (Harding) played well and was in the right position at the right time."

Harding has surrendered just three goals on 124 shots in five overall appearances this season.

"The nerves are still there," Harding said. "I'm in the net shaking. I'm a young guy, I still have a lot to learn. The more experience I get, probably the nerves will go away."

Harding was a little apprehensive about getting the start with Minnesota's long winning streak on the line.

"I didn't want to go in there and be the bad luck charm," he said. "Nik (Backstrom) has been playing out of this world. When I get my chance in there, I try to compete with Nik."

Defenseman Brent Burns and Pierre-Marc Bouchard also scored for Minnesota, which has outscored it opponents, 31-13, during its winning streak.

Burns gave the Wild at 1-0 lead 5:47 into the first period, when his wrist shot from the left point sailed over goaltender Mathieu Garon's glove.

"When you gets guys in front, anything can happen on any shot," said Burns, who has three goals in his last seven contests. "They've been going in for me recently and it's been nice. I didn't even aim at the net, I just tried to give the forwards a chance."

Garon made 19 saves for the Kings, who completed the season series against the Wild with an 0-2-2 mark.

Brown sliced the deficit to 2-1 when he took rookie Anze Kopitar's pass and snapped a shot from the bottom of the right circle past Harding.

"(Brown) played really well," Los Angeles coach Marc Crawford said. "He's a hard-nosed guy, finishes well on his checks, he's got a really good shot. We've been after him to hit the net a little bit more."

Kopitar's assist gave him 56 points, good for third in the league among rookies.








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    LOS ANGELES 0 0 1 1
    MINNESOTA 2 0 2 4 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: MIN - BRENT BURNS 6 (STEPHANE VEILLEUX, MIKKO KOIVU) 5:47
    MIN - (PP) BRIAN ROLSTON 31 (KURTIS FOSTER, MARIAN GABORIK)
    15:37
    2ND PRD: NONE
    3RD PRD: LOS - (PP) DUSTIN BROWN 15 (ANZE KOPITAR, MICHAEL
    CAMMALLERI) 0:14
    M

    Mar 24 10:31 PM


  • NHL
    LOS ANGELES 1
    MINNESOTA 4
    3RD PRD: MIN - MIKKO KOIVU 19 (BRIAN ROLSTON) 15:53

    Kings vs. WildMar 24 10:25 PM


  • NHL
    LOS ANGELES 1
    MINNESOTA 3
    3RD PRD: MIN - PIERRE-MARC BOUCHARD 19 (TODD WHITE) 6:45

    Kings vs. WildMar 24 10:07 PM


  • NHL
    LOS ANGELES 1
    MINNESOTA 2
    3RD PRD: LOS - (PP) DUSTIN BROWN 15 (ANZE KOPITAR, MICHAEL CAMMALLERI)
    0:14

    Kings vs. WildMar 24 9:55 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    LOS ANGELES 0 0 0
    MINNESOTA 2 0 2 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: MIN - BRENT BURNS 6 (STEPHANE VEILLEUX, MIKKO KOIVU) 5:47
    MIN - (PP) BRIAN ROLSTON 31 (KURTIS FOSTER, MARIAN GABORIK)
    15:37
    2ND PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    L

    Mar 24 9:37 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    LOS ANGELES 0 0
    MINNESOTA 2 2 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: MIN - BRENT BURNS 6 (STEPHANE VEILLEUX, MIKKO KOIVU) 5:47
    MIN - (PP) BRIAN ROLSTON 31 (KURTIS FOSTER, MARIAN GABORIK)
    15:37
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    LOS 9

    Mar 24 8:44 PM


  • NHL
    LOS ANGELES 0
    MINNESOTA 2
    1ST PRD: MIN - (PP) BRIAN ROLSTON 31 (KURTIS FOSTER, MARIAN GABORIK)
    15:37 (TWO-MAN ADVANTAGE)

    Kings vs. WildMar 24 8:37 PM


  • NHL
    LOS ANGELES 0
    MINNESOTA 1
    1ST PRD: MIN - BRENT BURNS 6 (STEPHANE VEILLEUX, MIKKO KOIVU) 5:47

    Kings vs. WildMar 24 8:17 PM