ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Zach Parise scored his first goal with Minnesota.
But Josh Harding’s seventh career shutout was even bigger news in the Wild’s 1-0 victory over the Dallas Stars on Sunday.
It was his first start since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
Harding became one of Minnesota’s feel-good stories last year when the team announced his intention to manage his illness and continue playing.
Earlier in the summer, he passed on the chance to leave and instead re-signed with the Wild to play behind Niklas Backstrom again.
“I can’t say enough and I can’t thank them enough for how good the team has been from the top down,” Harding said. “I’m not just talking about the players, I’m talking about management, I’m talking about everybody. It’s one of the reasons I signed back here. This is a family and I can’t say enough about each and every guy in here.”
Harding stopped all 24 shots he faced in his first start since being diagnosed last summer.
“I can’t say I’m surprised with how well he played,” said Parise, who skated with Harding frequently at the University of Minnesota during the NHL lockout. “He’s been looking good for a while.”
Parise got his third point with the Wild a night after getting two assists in Minnesota’s season-opening win against Colorado.
His first goal of the season came at 8:11 of the first period just as a 4-on-3 advantage for the Wild expired.
Parise one-timed a pass from Pierre-Marc Bouchard past Cristopher Nilstorp from the slot.
“It felt good to get one and get one early in the season,” he said. “We did a good job. It was a tough game both offensively and defensively for us.”
Both teams looked sluggish on the second night of back-to-back games. Each team was coming off a four-goal performance the night before, but struggled to find any sort of an offensive flow.
The Stars were 0 for 4 on the power play and never found a rhythm against the Wild’s defense and Harding.
“We knew it’s going to be like that, with the short season, with such a short season and we get to make up a lot of games in a short time,” Stars right wing Jaromir Jagr said.
Despite their tired legs, the Stars had chances throughout thanks to the impressive play of Nilstorp, who signed with Dallas in June after playing the previous four seasons in the Swedish Elite League. He stopped 31 shots in his first career NHL start for Dallas.
“He played great,” Alex Goligoski said. “He was awesome. I don’t know, they get the one on the power play, broke a couple of sticks, and other than that, he made some unbelievable saves.”
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