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Harding earns shutout; Wild beat Predators 2-0

Created: 10/23/2013 12:05 AM WHEC.com

(AP) ST. PAUL, Minn. - Josh Harding stopped 16 shots for his first shutout of the season and the Minnesota Wild beat the Nashville Predators 2-0 Tuesday night.

Justin Fontaine scored late in the second period and Jason Pominville added an empty-net tally for the Wild, who have scored just seven goals in the past five games.

Pekka Rinne made 27 saves for Nashville, which failed to get a point for the first time in six games. The Predators have allowed just five goals in regulation in last four games, going 2-1-1 in that stretch.

Beginning a stretch where it plays six of seven games at home, Minnesota dominated for much of the game, but continued to be snakebit in the offensive end.

The Wild, which entered the game averaging 30.7 shots per game, came out strong and took 13 shots at Rinne in the first 13 minutes, but couldn’t beat the Predator netminder. Rinne made two key stops on a penalty kill to thwart Marco Scandella and Dany Heatley and later stopped Mikko Koivu in front.

Rinne had to come up big because Nashville struggled to get shots at Harding. The Predators had just three first-period shots, six in the second and seven in the third.

Fontaine finally broke the scoreless tie at 18:53 of the second period.

Zach Parise carried the puck into the Nashville zone and sent a cross-ice pass to Clayton Stoner. His shot from the top of the left circle was stopped by Rinne, but Fontaine charged down the slot and was able to put the rebound into the Predators’ net for his second goal of the season.

The goal came a couple of minutes after Harding stopped Eric Nystrom, who had slipped behind a pair of Wild defenseman during a rare Nashville rush. Harding entered the game with a 1.11 goals-against average, second-best in the league.

Minnesota played with just five defensemen much of the game after losing top-pair defenseman Jonas Brodin less than 5 minutes into the game when a dump-in by Gabriel Bourque hit Brodin in the face. Leaving blood on the ice, Brodin went straight to the Wild locker room.

The Wild nearly lost another blue-liner when Scandella was hit in the leg by a slap shot from Shea Weber late in the period. Scandella struggled to the Wild bench before being helped to the locker room. However, he returned for the second period.

NOTES: Entering the game, Nashville had the league’s best faceoff win percentage at 55.8 percent; Minnesota was second at 55.7 percent. ... Wild D Ryan Suter played his 600th game, the first 542 with Nashville before signing a 13-year, $98 million deal with Minnesota on July 4, 2012. ... Predators C Mike Fisher missed his third straight game with a lower body injury. ... Wild D Keith Ballard missed his fourth straight game after being hit in the face by a puck Oct. 14. ... Nashville C Matt Cullen, a native of Moorhead, Minn., played the last three seasons with Minnesota.



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