's first NHL victory in more than 18 months is one he'll savor for a long time.
Harding hadn't won since March 21, 2010 -- a stretch that covers all of last season, which he missed while recovering from surgery to repair two torn ligaments in his right knee. He showed no ill effects from the injury on Saturday night, stopping all 36 shots he faced to lead the Minnesota Wild
to a 1-0 victory against the Detroit Red Wings
at the Xcel Energy Center.
Harding made his return two weeks ago, stopping 38 shots but losing 3-2 in OT to the Wings. Given a second chance against one of the NHL's top teams, he was flawless as he made Dany Heatley
's first-period goal stand up.
"I didn't really think about playing Detroit twice and getting three out of four points," said Harding, who recorded his fifth career shutout. He has stopped 74 of 77 shots by the Wings in the two starts.
"It's a great feeling," Harding said after his fifth career shutout. "It makes you know that all that hard work paid off."
It was just the second shutout by the Wild against Detroit; the other came in March 2003.
"Unbelievable," Wild coach Mike Yeo said of Harding's performance. "He was great. He makes a save that you don't expect and it’s amazing what a lift that gives your team."
Detroit lost its fourth consecutive game and second in two nights despite outshooting Minnesota 36-20. Wings coach Mike Babcock couldn't find a whole lot wrong with his team's performance -- only the outcome.
"We didn't score," he said. "I didn't mind our game at all. Their goaltender was good.
"We played way better (the last two nights)," Babcock said. "We're not scoring easy. We're not scoring at all. We haven't all played where we feel like we got the feel. And they're good players, they're going to get that because there's no way we can suddenly be a team that can't score. So to me, just keep working, keep doing good things and good things will happen."
Heatley, one of the NHL's top snipers, did what the Wild brought him to Minnesota to do when he controlled a tipped puck outside his own blue line, raced down right wing and zipped a wrister over Jimmy Howard
's right shoulder into the top corner for what turned out to be the only goal of the game.
The Wings won their first five games this season, but they've dropped four in the last eight days -- including back-to-back losses to San Jose and Minnesota.
Howard got the start after playing in Friday's 4-2 loss to San Jose because backup Ty Conklin
has struggled, allowing 10 goals in his last two starts.
The Wings looked a little sluggish early, but the game remained scoreless when officials overturned an apparent goal by Wild forward Nick Johnson
, ruling that he kicked a rebound into the net. They did nothing during after being awarded a four-minute power play early in the third period when Minnesota's Devin Setoguchi
cut Todd Bertuzzi
with a high stick.
killed two minutes of the long power play by taking a hooking penalty less than a minute later and missed a chance in front of the net after he returned.
"We had a lot of chances," Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom
said. "Kind of like, I'm used to saying this answer right now ... we're creating but we can't really score goals. You know it's frustrating. I think we're doing a lot of good things, but we don't get rewarded with goals and wins."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report.