Harding makes 37 saves in debut, Wild beats Ducks 2-0 for third shutout of season

The Wild improved to 4-0, with a win over a team that ended its season last year.

;ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire spent his entire 12-year playing career with Montreal and never started a season better than 4-0 with the Canadiens – despite winning eight Stanley Cups and scoring the championship-winning goal twice.

However, under Lemaire’s direction, the Wild are off to a 5-0 start after coming out of the gate a franchise-best 6-0 last season. The two-time coach of the year knows how difficult it is to carry the momentum from a championship over to the following season, so he isn’t surprised that the defending champion Anaheim Ducks are just 2-4-1.

“When you win the Cup, that’s what happens,” Lemaire said Sunday night after Minnesota beat the Ducks 2-0. “They’re having a slow start, which is normal because of all they went through last year – and the short summer. But their guys will get their minds on the game and get back to where they should be, and they’ll probably finish first in the conference this year.”

Brian Rolston and Mark Parrish scored second-period goals and Josh Harding posted his third career shutout with a career-high 37 saves in his season debut, as Minnesota remained the NHL’s only unbeaten team. Three of the wins have been shutouts, including two by Niklas Backstrom.

“I don’t want to make too much of this win, but they’re the Stanley Cup champions. So we’ll keep that in mind and we’ll try to keep getting better,” Rolston said. “It was a chippy game and a hard-fought game. It was like a playoff hockey game.”

Despite the fast start, Minnesota is 1-for-19 on the power play. But the penalty-killing unit, second-best in the league last season, remains solid. The Ducks were 0-for-8 with the man advantage, and are 1-for-23 over their last four games. Last season they had the third-best percentage with the extra skater.

“The Stanley Cup championship is the measuring stick for this league. And for the penalty-killing unit to come in and win this game for us, it was just fantastic,” Parrish said. “It’s nice to win an ugly, gritty game on the road like that. Harding was obviously the quarterback of everything.”

In the only other game Sunday night, Detroit beat Los Angeles 4-1.

Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere also made his season debut, facing 25 shots. The 2003 playoff MVP sat out the first six games after undergoing surgery on Aug. 6 for a sports hernia.

“I felt pretty strong and was in pretty good shape, but the timing was a little bit off every once in a while,” said Giguere, who recorded a franchise-record 36 victories last season and 13 more in the playoffs. “Going through the first 60 minutes was a big test for my legs.”