Harding Stops All 19 Shots, Wild Beat Devils 4-0
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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Josh Harding stopped 19 shots for his second shutout of the season and the Minnesota Wild beat the New Jersey Devils 4-0 Sunday night.
Mikael Granlund, Torrey Mitchell, Dany Heatley and Jason Pominville scored for the Wild, who have won five of six. Nino Niederreiter had three assists.
Cory Schneider, back after missing three games with a sore groin, finished with 16 saves for New Jersey. The Devils were blanked for the second straight night and fourth time in 14 games.
Looking to forget about Saturday’s 1-0 home loss to Philadelphia when it managed just 14 shots, New Jersey dominated early with six shots on goal in the opening 5 minutes. However, the Devils went nearly 8 minutes before their next shot, including two power-play opportunities.
The Devils began the night ranked 25th in scoring at 2.00 goals per game, and rarely tested Harding, who came in leading the league in goals-against average (1.22) and save percentage (.946).
The early missed chances proved costly as Granlund gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead at 13:20 of the first period.
Pominville’s shot from the left circle was saved by Schneider, and a bad-angle rebound attempt by Niederreiter trickled out to the slot where Granlund was alone for his first goal of the year to go along with a team-leading 10 assists.
Mitchell’s first goal of the season put Minnesota up 2-0 at 7:35 of the second.
Schneider got a piece of Zach Parise’s shot from below the right circle, but the puck fluttered to the crease where four players were crashing the net and Mitchell deflected the puck across the line.
Parise, who had 194 goals and 410 points with the Devils, signed a 13-year, $98 million contract with the Wild on July 4, 2012, and was playing against his former team for the first time. The teams did not meet last year because of the NHL lockout-shortened schedule.
Heatley scored his first non-empty-net goal of the season early in the third, redirecting Keith Ballard’s shot behind Schneider. Pominville added an empty-netter with 2:25 to play, his sixth goal in the past four games.
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New Jersey defenseman Jon Merrill left his first NHL game after sliding hard into the boards in the first period.
Merrill was skating into the corner to the right of Schneider when he was tripped up by Mitchell. He went into the boards face-first, and it looked as if he sustained at least one cut on his face.
With blood on the ice, Merrill looked wobbly as he was helped to the locker room. The team said he had lacerations on his face and would not return.
NOTES: Minnesota C Charlie Coyle missed the game after aggravating a sprained knee Friday. He had missed the previous 11 games with the injury, and is considered day-to-day. To replace Coyle, the Wild recalled F Carson McMillan from AHL Iowa. … New Jersey forwards Patrik Elias (upper body) and Travis Zajac (right ankle) missed their second straight games. … Ballard has three assists in his last two games. … New Jersey is off until Thursday at Philadelphia; Minnesota is home Tuesday against Calgary.
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