Wild edge Blues in shootout

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ST. PAUL, Minn. – Brian Rolston scored the winning goal and rookie goaltender Josh Harding stopped two of three shots in the shootout to lift the Minnesota Wild to a 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Blues.

After allowing a goal by Keith Tkachuk in the first round of the shootout, Harding, who was making his first career start, stopped shots by Dean McAmmond and Petr Cajanek to set up Rolston’s game winner.

Minnesota’s leading point scorer took the puck at center ice, skated in on the right side and slid the puck through goaltender Reinhard Divis’ five-hole. The play had to be reviewed before officials ultimately ruled that the puck crossed the goal line.

Divis allowed goals by Mikko Koivu and Rolston in the shootout, which would have ended a round sooner had Minnesota’s Marian Gaborik not hit the post with his attempt.

Mike Glumac had a goal and an assist and McAmmond added two assists for the Blues, who haven’t won in their last 11 games, since a 3-2 victory over Columbus on March 13.

It was quite a debut for the 21-year-old Harding, who made 22 saves after not playing in a game since being called up from Houston of the AHL on March 8.

Wild coach Jacques Lemaire thought he was doing the 21-year-old Harding a favor by giving him his first start at home against one of the league’s worst teams.

So Lemaire rested No. 1 goalie Manny Fernandez for the first time in 14 games, since the Wild traded Dwayne Roloson to Edmonton.

But Minnesota’s defense didn’t do much to help their young goalie, constantly allowing Blues attackers to sneak in on the back side for open shots, especially on the power play.

The Wild’s top-ranked penalty kill unit continued to struggle on Tuesday, two days after allowing Detroit to go 2-for-4 in a 3-2 loss.

Lee Stempniak and Glumac scored on nearly identical power-play goals in the first and second period to help St. Louis to a 2-1 lead.

Both were able to sneak behind the Wild defense and get wide open on the back door, taking pin-point passes across the crease from McAmmond and Jay McClement, respectively.

Glumac’s goal made it 2-1 midway through the second, a period that finished with a flurry of four goals in the final five minutes.

Mattias Weinhandl and Marc Chouinard scored for the Wild, while Jamal Mayers scored on a breakaway for the Blues and Timofei Shishkanov made it 4-3 St. Louis going into the final period.

Wes Walz’s 18th goal of the season, on an assist from Gaborik, tied the game with 14:37 to play, setting up a back-and-forth overtime.

Divis, starting for the injured Patrick Lalime, made 32 saves.

Notes: Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback Brad Johnson got a loud ovation just before making the “Let’s Play Hockey!” call to start the game. … Blues forward Jeff Hoggan was held out again Tuesday night. Hoggan hasn’t played since breaking his collar bone on Jan. 26, but has been practicing and could return Thursday against Nashville. … Walz’s 18 goals this season ties a career high.

AP-ES-04-04-06 2300EDT

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