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Updated: October 29th, 2011 9:37pm
Josh Harding blanks Red Wings in Wild's 1-0 win

Josh Harding blanks Red Wings in Wild's 1-0 win

by Jess Myers
1500ESPN.com
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - With Niklas Backstrom ahead of him, Wild backup goalie Josh Harding doesn't see a ton of action, but when he does, it comes in red and white. On Saturday Harding made just his second start of the season - and his second start versus Detroit this season - and responded with a 1-0 shutout of the once-powerful Red Wings.

Dany Heatley scored the game's only goal in the first period, blasting a shot past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard. It was Heatley's third goal of the season. And, after Thursday's relatively lifeless loss to the Ducks, it got some much-needed momentum going for the Wild again.

Harding, a lefty, stopped all 36 of the Wings shots, as Detroit's offense dominated the last two periods.

The skinny

Harding, you'll recall, blew a knee in the preseason 13 months ago, and missed all of last season, so this was a key step in his comeback. Heading into the game, with four young defensemen manning the blue line and facing in Motown lineup that still includes the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom, not to mention Nicklas Lidstrom on defense, it could have been a disaster brewing. But the home team would not back down.

"We're not intimidated at all here," said Marco Scandella, who was one of three defensemen to log more than 20 minutes of ice time Saturday. "We've played together in Houston and we're all here for a reason."

The main reason they were there on Saturday was to let Harding see the puck. Detroit was pressing, shooting from all angles, and making sure the goalie could view, and stop, the puck throughout, was paramount.

"I was seeing it pretty good. I got lucky on a couple, but overall I'm pretty happy with the performance," Harding said. "It's all reaction, and just keep the puck out of the net."

The Wild appeared to have taken a 1-0 lead early when the rebound of a Kyle Brodziak shot deflected off Nick Johnson's ankle and past Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard. After a lengthy review, officials in the NHL's War Room in Toronto decalred no goal, saying that Johnson had made a kicking motion to direct the puck into the net.

About two minutes later there was no need for a review, as Heatley blasted a puck by Howard for his third goal of the season.

"They had two backcheckers coming, so I was thinking shoot pretty much the whole time," said Heatley. "I'm going for that side, but there was a lot of heat coming from the back side, so I threw it high and it ended up in the net."

Turning point

In the midst of a harmless-looking collision between Devin Setoguchi and Todd Bertuzzi in front of the benches, Setoguchi's stick came up and caught Bertuzzi in the face, drawing blood and earning the Red Wings a four-minute power play midway through the third period. A later penalty on Detroit meant the man-advantage was only two minutes long, but the Wild killed it off, grabbing momentum and taking away perhaps the best chance for Detroit to tie the game. 

Numbers game

2 - All-time shutouts of Detroit by the Wild. The last was 3/23/03, by Dwayne Roloson.

1/28/10 - Harding's last career shutout.

8 - Number of one-goal games played by the Wild this season, after 10 games.

4 - Consecutive games lost in regulation by the Red Wings. The last time that happened was Feb. 2008.

Health watch

With defenseman Greg Zanon heading to the injured reserve list, the Wild called up Minnesota native Nate Prosser from their AHL club in Houston to man a post on the blue line. Teammates were impressed with the job Prosser did in his first NHL game this season.

"He looked like he'd been playing for a lonf time out there. That's great to see," Harding said.

Summary

First period

Wild - Dany Heatley 3 (Koivu), 10:51

Second period

No scoring

Third period

No scoring

Shots: Wild 9-7-4-20; Red Wings 10-16-11-36. Saves: Wild, Josh Harding (36-36); Red Wings, Jimmy Howard (19-20). Power plays: Wild 0-for-4, Red Wings 0-4. 

Three stars

1. Josh Harding

2. Dany Heatley

3. Justin Falk

Coming up

Playing the Wings is so much fun, the Wild are going to do it again right away. The two teams square off, for the third time in just over two weeks, on Tuesday night in Joe Louis Arena. Knowing the storied Detroit tradition of torching buildings to celebrate Halloween, let's just hope the rink is still standing on Nov. 1.

Wild coach Mike Yeo joked that it's a secret game plan, but we can expect to see Harding back between the pipes on Tuesday to face the Red Wings one more time.

"If a goalie gets a shutout, most of the time you can count on that goalie coming back," Yeo said. "Don't tell anyone. We're going to keep that a secret, but I think they might be smart enough to figure out he might be playing the next game." 

Jess Myers covers the Wild and college hockey for 1500ESPN.com. He is a member of the editorial advisory board for USA Hockey Magazine.
Email Jess | @JessRMyers
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