ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Third-string goalie Josh Harding turned in another strong performance to help the Minnesota Wild beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 on Saturday night and stretch their franchise-best winning streak to nine games.
Brian Rolston got his team-leading 31st goal after Brent Burns scored in the first period for Minnesota, which sneaked past idle Vancouver into first place in the Northwest Division - though the Canucks have played two fewer games.
Mikko Koivu added a late goal for the Wild, who have 97 points - a franchise record and the fourth-highest total in the Western Conference.
Dustin Brown scored for the Kings, who have been eliminated from the playoffs, but entered the game having gone 4-1-1 in their previous six games. Goalie Mathieu Garon had a four-game winning streak end. He made 19 saves in a game full of yapping, scrapping and a late fight between each team's specialist - Derek Boogaard for Minnesota and Raitis Ivanans for Los Angeles.
Harding, making his third start this season while Niklas Backstrom got a break, filled in seamlessly once again and improved to 3-0-1 since his promotion from the minors when original starter Manny Fernandez first sprained his left knee. In 225 minutes, Harding has given up only three goals. He made 32 saves against the Kings.
Early in the third, Brown took a drop pass from Anze Kopitar and scored 14 seconds in as a power play neared expiration to make it 2-1.
Minnesota pushed back 6???? minutes later when Todd White controlled a faceoff in the opponent's zone - a weakness for the Wild this season - and sent the puck in perfect position for Pierre-Marc Bouchard to wind up and shoot past Garon for a 3-1 lead.
Notes: Defenceman Rob Blake, whose free-agent signing headlined an active off-season for Los Angeles, has a minus-25 rating for the team that has given up the second-most goals in the league. Blake, who was scratched because of a strained neck that occurred in the first period of Friday night's win at Chicago, is day-to-day. . . . Minnesota also established a franchise record by winning its 26th home game. The Wild are 26-6-4 at Xcel Energy Center. . . . Brown's goal snapped an 0-for-17 streak by the Kings against Minnesota this season on the power play.