ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota rookie goalie Josh Harding will be sad to see the NHL season end in a few days.
On Tuesday night, Harding made 27 saves in his second NHL start and Stephane Veilleux scored the deciding goal on a third-period breakaway in the Wild's 2-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night.
It has been a perfect start for Harding, who beat St. Louis in a shootout last week in his NHL debut.
"To get my first win in a shootout and now get a shutout, you can't write a better book than that," said Harding, expected to play for the Wild's Houston minor league team in the AHL playoffs. "It makes the game easy when you're in the right position, but this is a great feeling and definitely something big to get off my chest."
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. Chicago, which has lost five of its last six, has lost 40 of 41 games by two goals or less this season.
"I don't think our power play generated enough quality chances from the start," Blackhawks coach Trent Yawney said. "They've got the best penalty kill in the league, so you've got to work for loose pucks. It wasn't our best night, obviously."
Veilleux scored after a Chicago 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 a good play by Brian, and I just skated hard to finally get a breakaway," Veilleux said. "Then I just made a right and left move to put it in."
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.
"He was intense and skated well," Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire said. "This is exactly what we expected from Veilleux all year. The last 10 games he's been playing well and getting some offense."
Khabibulin had 20 saves for the Blackhawks, who were shut out for the third time this season - all of them on the road.
"It seems we couldn't get anything going," Blackhawks captain Martin Lapointe said. "In this league, if you can't get your power play going, you won't win games."
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.
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.