Wild blank Blackhawks

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ST. PAUL, Minn. – Josh Harding made 27 saves in his second NHL start and Stephane Veilleux scored the deciding goal on a third-period breakaway in the Minnesota Wild’s 2-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard added an empty-net goal with 1:11 remaining to help the Wild win for the fifth time in their last seven games.

Veilleux scored after a Blackhawks turnover midway through the third, with Brian Rolston chipping the puck out of the Chicago zone to Veilleux, who had gotten loose behind defender Brent Seabrook. Veilleux caught up to the puck at the blue line, corralled it and came straight in on goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. The Wild forward faked a backhand shot before tucking the puck past the goalie’s right skate.

It was the seventh goal of the season for Veilleux, who was ejected from the game less than a minute later after a fight with Chicago’s Radim Vrbata.

Khabibulin had 20 saves for the Blackhawks, who were shut out for the third time this season – all of them on the road.

Minnesota was outshot in the opening two periods, but had best scoring chances. Veilleux hit the post with a turnaround shot in the opening minute of the game, and Kyle Wanvig appeared to have a clear shot at the Blackhawks net after a turnover late in the period, before Khabibulin thwarted him with a glove save.

Chicago, which has lost five of its last six, has lost 40 of 41 games by two goals or less this season.

Notes: Minnesota, which boasts the NHL’s top penalty kill, held the Blackhawks scoreless on seven power plays, including a 5-minute power play in the third period. Chicago has the league’s worst road power play. … It was the last home game of the season for the Wild, who will miss the playoffs for the fourth time in their five NHL seasons.

AP-ES-04-11-06 2243EDT

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