Harding stopped 33 shots, including several great glove saves on one-timers and point-blank chances, to shutout out the Northwest Division-leading and defending Stanley Cup runner-up Vancouver Canucks 1-0 Monday at the Xcel Energy Center.
“They come hard,” Harding said. “The (defensemen) and forwards did a great job in front of me.”
His best save came on a one-timer attempt from Ryan Kesler at the top of the circles while the Wild were a man down, but the biggest save may have been a glove catch off a shot from Chris Higgins in the first minute of the game.
“(Harding) was outstanding,” Mike Yeo said. “He was great. How important goaltending is they get a chance two minutes into the game; a great rush chance. He not only saves it, he sends a message to the rest of the team he is ready to go.”
Harding did what no goaltender has been able to do to the Canucks since Oct. 26; hold them off the scoreboard.
Erik Christensen provided the only goal Hin the final minute of the first period with the man advantage.
“The whole sequence started back before the power play started,” Christensen said. “Dany Heatley is going after one of their better players and draws a penalty. Those sort of plays get over looked. It is those little plays getting their best guys off their game.”
He has picked his game up with four goals in the last four games.
“Things started to turnaround for him in Phoenix,” Yeo said. “A little bit more attention to detail in his game. We talked about it this morning. A guy is really trying to score a goal and that is what his focus is then he forgets about the things he needs to do to get himself in that position.”
He was the recipient of a great no-look pass from Kyle Brodziak on the back door and tucked a shot just between the near-post and Cory Schneider’s arm.
Cal Clutterbuck started the play with pass to Brodziak in front of the net. Brodziak in turn dropped a no-look pass between his legs across the top of the crease to Christensen.
Brodziak added an empty-net goal with just less than three seconds remaining with a three-quarter rink shot.
No. 3 – Cory Schneider. The Canucks goaltender made several very good saves to keep the Canucks within a goal.
No. 2 – Erik Christensen. The Wild forward scored the game-winning goal.
No. 1 – Josh Harding. The Wild goaltender stopped 33 shots for the shutout.
Vancouver 0 0 0 – 0
Minnesota 1 0 1 – 2
First Period – 1, Minnesota, Christensen 5 (Brodziak, Clutterbuck), 19:36 (pp). Penalties – Burrows, Van (roughing), 18:04; Bieksa, Van, major (fighting), 18:04; Johnson, Min, major (fighting), 18:04.
Second Period – None. Penalties – Stoner, Min (high sticking), 4:34; Kesler, Van (clipping), 18:52.
Third Period – 2, Minnesota, Brodziak 19 (unassisted), 19:57 (en). Penalties – Gragnani, Van (roughing), 2:13; Stoner, Min (roughing), 2:13; Hansen, Van (goaltender interference), 14:00.
Shots on goal – Vancouver 11-12-10 33. Minnesota 12-17-5 34.
Goalies – Vancouver, Schneider (32-33). Minnesota, Harding (33-33). A – 17,188. Referees – Kyle Rehman, Dan O’Halloran. Linesmen – Pierre Champoux, Bryan Pancich.