|Los Angeles Kings left wing Michael Cammalleri, right, falls into Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding during the third period of their NHL hockey game, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2007, in Los Angeles. Cammalleri received a penalty for interfering with a goalie on the play. The Wild won 2-1. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)|
LOS ANGELES (AP) -The Minnesota Wild suddenly got a lot of practice in penalty killing.
700K Crawford Post Game
Josh Harding was up to the task, shrugging off the flu and making 35 saves in 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.
"When you take about five or six penalties in the second period like we did, it's tough on the penalty killers," forward Eric Belanger said. "You also can't get all of your guys involved in the game, either, so it takes a toll - especially when you play back-to-back games like we did. They were trying everything, especially on the power play."
The Kings were a season-worst 0-for-8 with the man advantage. The Wild were 1-for-8, with Brian Rolston scoring their second goal during a 5-on-3 power play. During its previous six games, Minnesota was short-handed 10 times and was on the power play 32 times.
"We had a ridiculous amount of penalties," Rolston said. "They were calling it tight, and both teams got caught."
Harding, who stopped Michal Handzus on a breakaway at 10:37 of the first period with Minnesota leading 1-0, lost his shutout bid with 1:12 remaining after the Kings pulled goalie Jean-Sebastien Aubin for an extra attacker. Michael Cammalleri threw the puck toward the net from the outside of the right circle and it caromed in off the skate of teammate Rob Blake.
"I was sick this morning and kind of got over it this afternoon," Harding said. "I maybe wasn't 100 percent, but everybody had to battle through it, and I'm no different. I just wanted to keep it simple out there. You've got to be ready every game, and if you get put in there you've got to show that you can do it.
"Hopefully I proved to them in these two games that I can come up big."
Marian Gaborik also scored for Minnesota, 11-12-1 following a 7-0-1 start that included a 4-3 shootout loss to the Kings on Oct. 16.
"We had about five or six guys who were sick with the flu in the last two or three days, but the guys battled and we played two good games on the road," Belanger said.
This was the first time the Wild have won consecutive games with Harding in net, following his 28-save effort in Friday's 5-2 win over Anaheim. He made four straight starts without a victory Oct. 25-Nov. 1, then made three starts in a row Nov. 16-21 and lost twice.
"He's giving us a chance to win," coach Jacques Lemaire said. "In this league, it's so tight and teams are so good, if your goaltender is just average one night, you won't win."
Gaborik opened the scoring 3:48 in on Minnesota's first shot. Teammate Kim Johnsson made a clearing pass off the boards from behind his net, and Gaborik caught up to the puck before skating in alone on Aubin. He beat him high to the stick side for his 12th goal.
Los Angeles had a great chance to tie it when Handzus intercepted a cross-ice pass by Johnsson just inside the Kings blue line and sped the other way. But Harding made a glove save on the breakaway.
"He made a great shot and I was lucky I got my glove up there in time," Harding said. "He's not the first guy I'd pick to face on a breakaway because he's a very talented guy."
The Kings were called for too many men on the ice at 4:54 of the second, and Minnesota's power play became a two-man advantage 45 seconds later when Anze Kopitar was sent off for holding. Rolston scored with 49 seconds left on the first penalty to make it 2-0.
The Wild, who scored during a 5-on-3 advantage for one of their four power-play goals Friday, had scored only twice with a two-man advantage during their first 30 games before arriving in Southern California.
"Mark Parrish did such a great job screening the goalie," Rolston said. "I hit the corner of the net, but he couldn't even move on it because Parrish had such a great screen in front of him."
Left winger Alexander Frolov returned to the Kings lineup after missing 11 games because of a groin injury. He was the only forward to play in all 82 games for the Kings last season and led the team with a career-high 35 goals.
"I know I'm probably not in great shape right now, but I'm just trying to work hard and do the best I can every shift," said Frolov, who played 21 shifts totaling almost 16 minutes and had two shots.
Notes: When Minnesota hosts Nashville on Tuesday night, Lemaire will become the 14th NHL coach with 1,000 regular-season games behind the bench - fourth among active coaches, joining Mike Keenan, Jacques Martin and Ron Wilson. Los Angeles' Marc Crawford needs 62 more to reach 1,000. ... Gaborik has 14 goals in 22 games against Los Angeles.
KINGS HEAD COACH MARC CRAWFORD:
(Re: game recap) ?I would say the biggest problem for our team is we all have to have a recognition of just how miniscule the difference between winning and losing is in the National Hockey League. We have to take ownership of games like these and recognize that every shift you are out there can be a difference maker.?
KINGS FORWARD ALEXANDER FROLOV:
(Re: his health) ?I know I?m probably not in great shape right now, but I?m just trying to work hard and do the best I can every shift.?
WILD HEAD COACH JACQUES LEMAIRE:
(Re: game recap) ?We needed a goalie that will give us a chance to win and that?s what we?ve had these past few games.?
WILD GOALTENDER JOSH HARDING:
(Re: game recap) ?Our defense did a good job and maybe people didn?t expect it but we played great as a team and had a couple of good goals. I knew I had to come up with a couple of good saves and get the confidence back in the team.?