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Wild beat Flyers to end four-game losing streak

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild scored goals 57 seconds apart early in the third period on their way to a 2-0 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday at Xcel Energy Center.

A rather stagnant offensive effort by both teams through 40 minutes turned quickly in Minnesota's favor in the final period when the Wild scored goals at 3:52 and 4:49.

The victory snapped a four-game losing skid for the Wild.

The play that led to the first goal started innocently enough when Wild captain Mikko Koivu scooped up a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated down the right wall and behind the Flyers net. Once at the left post, Koivu spun around and centered to Jason Pominville, who took the pass while driving the net and beat Flyers goalie Ray Emery for his 14th goal.

"I had good speed down the wall. I didn't know if it was [Pominville] or [Zach Parise], I just tried to get it on the tape, and I did," Koivu said. "He made a good shot going up high. He was pretty tight too."

The goal snapped an eight-game streak in which Minnesota had allowed the first goal. The Wild went 3-4-1 in those games.

Wild coach Mike Yeo said his team put a premium on getting back to its puck-possession game, which was so successful over the first six weeks of the season, to break that streak. Minnesota led the league in shots against per game over much of that stretch and is still second in that category. But over its past 10 games, Minnesota's shots allowed had risen in conjunction with the number in the loss column.

"We've given up the first goal so many times lately," Yeo said. "If we're not going to score it, don't let them."

The Wild didn't have to cling to their first 1-0 lead in 17 days for long.

On the next shift, Wild defenseman Marco Scandella chased down a loose puck to Emery's right as Minnesota changed attackers. He was able to hold off Flyers defenseman Mark Streit just long enough to get a pass to Jared Spurgeon, who blasted a slap shot on goal from the point. Emery made a quick pad save, but the rebound went right to a crashing Charlie Coyle, who slammed the puck into the net for his third goal.

Coyle's goal was crucial. Flyers coach Craig Berube said both teams were playing a strong defensive game and acknowledged the team that was able to make the next big play would have a big advantage.

"They made the play and got the goal," said Berube, whose team lost for the first time in three games.

Wild goalie Josh Harding took over from there.

Untested virtually all night, Harding made perhaps his best save of the season with a bit less than 12 minutes left in the third period when he dove across his crease to rob Jakob Voracek with Philadelphia on the power play, preserving Minnesota' two-goal advantage.

"Desperation," Harding said. "You see an empty net, and you see a guy with the puck. You just throw your body over and it hit me. No skill to that one. I just got lucky."

Voracek knows he had a chance to get his team back in the game.

"It was a great save by Harding, but if I score there, it could be a different game," he said. "There's no reason for me not to score from there."

Coming off a season when Voracek averaged nearly a point per game and established a new career high in goals (22), Harding's miraculous save extended his goal-scoring drought to 10 games. Voracek has three goals and 12 points in 27 games this season.

"Just unbelievable this year -- so many chances, hit a couple posts, couple good saves," Voracek said. "Last year, everything went under the bar; this year, I think I'm thinking too much when I see the puck laying there."

Harding made another quality save on Claude Giroux in the slot two minutes after the big stop on Voracek, then he helped kill off another Flyers power play with five minutes remaining.

Harding made 21 saves and is now 11-1-0 on home ice this season and 14-4-3 overall. The shutout was Harding's third of the season and the 10th of his career. His total victories and shutouts established new career highs for the seventh-year veteran.

Emery, who entered the game 4-0-1 against Minnesota in his career, stopped 19 shots in his first career regulation loss to the Wild.

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