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Wild shut out winless Devils

The SportsXchange

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Onyl three days into November, the New Jersey Devils can already say it has been a long, tough month.

On Sunday night, a quartet of Minnesota Wild goals -- and 19 saves by goalie Josh Harding -- kept the Devils winless -- and scoreless -- in the first month of the season.

Mikael Granlund, Torrey Mitchell, Dany Heatley and Jason Pominville scored for the Wild (8-4-3), and Harding posted his second shutout of the season as the Devils (3-7-4) were blanked for the second night in a row in Minnesota's 4-0 win.

"The guys are making it easy. It's never about one player," said Harding, who is 6-0-0 at home. "We win as a team and we lose as a team, like we always say. This was another team win. Everybody contributed and pulled their weight."

The Devils, who had lost 1-0 at home to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night, did not look like the quick turnaround bothered them early in the game, outshooting the Wild 6-0 early. Still, Minnesota held the Devils without a shot on two first-period power plays and scored the only goal of the first period.

"We wanted a quick start. We lost our momentum with our power play," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "In the first period, we were playing well. We drew a couple power plays by playing that way and really the momentum shifted when they killed off a couple penalties in the first. We didn't generate anything."

Granlund, who leads the Wild in assists, got his first goal of the season to finish a scramble in front of the New Jersey net. Devils goalie Cory Schneider, back in action after missing two games with a groin injury, stopped shots by Pominville and Nino Neiderreiter before Granlund scored.

Zach Parise, who played the first 502 games of his career for the Devils and has now played one against them, fired a close-range shot in the second period that banked off Schneider's right arm and into the air. The puck appeared to hit Devils defenseman Marek Zidlicky, who was crashing the net with Mitchell, and landed in the net. Mitchell was credited with the goal, his first of the season.

"As a player, you always hate practicing and scrimmaging against your own team. That's what it felt like for me tonight the whole game," Parise said. "They don't give you much offensively. They play well systematically. There's not a lot of room out there. Fortunately, we were pretty opportunistic. When we did have the chances, we put them in."

Devils rookie defenseman Jon Merrill made his NHL debut, but it was cut short. Five minutes into the game, Merrill was tripped up in a corner of the rink and went hard face-first into the boards, suffering a cut on the bridge of his nose. He was helped off the ice and did not return due to the facial lacerations.

"They both came in with some speed," said Schneider, who finished with 16 saves. "I think it was a combination of him losing his edge a bit. Mitchell's stick was right there, so I don't know if he got him high up on the leg and caused him to fall. It looked pretty bad."

With Zidlicky in the penalty box for interference in the third period, Heatley tipped a Keith Ballard shot past Schneider for a three-goal lead, and Minnesota won for the fifth time in its past six games.

"It seemed like we kind of felt our way into the game and they were dictating the play early," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "I think what really got us going was our penalty kill. We went out and we killed that first penalty, but our leaders and what they were saying on the bench, and more importantly how they went out and performed after that, really started to turn things around after us."

Pominville added an empty-net goal -- his sixth goal in the Wild's last four games.

NOTES: Charlie Coyle played center for the Wild on Friday after missing the previous 11 games but was scratched on Sunday after aggravating his knee injury. That forced the Wild to call up C Carson McMillan from their AHL affiliate in Iowa. McMillan drove his own vehicle the 245 miles from Des Moines to the Wild rink for the game. ... Devils LW Patrick Elias and C Travis Zajac both missed the trip to Minnesota. Elias warmed up before New Jersey's Saturday night home game against the Flyers but did not play because of an upper-body injury. Zajac was scratched for the second consecutive game with a right ankle injury. ... The biggest pregame ovation came when two members of the University of Minnesota football team were introduced. The Golden Gophers improved to 7-2 with a win at Indiana on Saturday. ... The Devils, in a stretch where they'll play four of five on the road, will return to New Jersey before Thursday's game at Philadelphia. Minnesota stays at home for its next game, hosting former Northwest Division rival Calgary on Tuesday.
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