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Roloson earns fifth shutout for Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- The Minnesota Wild finished the season strong. Too bad, for them, they didn't turn things around sooner.

Marian Gaborik had a goal and Dwayne Roloson earned his fifth

shutout, leading the Wild to a season-ending 3-0 victory Sunday

over the short-handed St. Louis Blues.

"It would be nice to be going into the playoffs like this,

considering how well we've played lately," said coach Jacques

Lemaire, who guided Minnesota to the Western Conference finals last

year. "But I think we started too late to play well as a group."

Stephane Veilleux had a power-play goal, and Marc Chouinard

added an empty-netter for the Wild, who finished 10th in the West --

eight points out of the final playoff spot. Minnesota went 9-3-1-1

in its final 14 games and moved above .500 for the first time all

season to finish at 30-29-20-3.

"The young guys have come in here and played well," Gaborik

said. "It's nice to finish with a win. Especially in front of the

home fans."

The Blues, who wrapped up the seventh seed for the playoffs

Saturday, sat seven players including Eric Weinrich, Keith Tkachuk,

Dallas Drake, Scott Mellanby, Doug Weight and Chris Pronger.

"It was a good opportunity for some guys without much playing

time to get back into the lineup," said coach Mike Kitchen, who

went 9-7-4 since taking over for the fired Joel Quenneville on Feb.

24. "We're going to need everyone, so it's a matter of staying

healthy and rolling into playoff mode."

St. Louis has qualified for the playoffs each season since 1980,

a 25-year streak that's the longest active run in the four major

professional sports.

"I think we're ready to go," said right wing Mark Rycroft, who

returned after an 11-game absence with a leg injury. "We looked at

this game as a chance for some of us to shake the rust off. But the

team has played very well in the last 15 games or so."

The Blues will face Pacific Division champion San Jose in the

first round next week.

"Confidence is a big thing," Kitchen said. "When I took over,

we weren't a very confident hockey team, but our power play's

getting better and we're getting timely goals."

Roloson, who made 24 saves, had the second-best goals-against

average in the NHL behind Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff. Roloson, an

All-Star who went 19-18-11, had a GAA of 1.92 entering Sunday.

"It was awesome the way we came together down the stretch,"

Roloson said. "It was great for some guys to open some eyes."

Late in the second period, after Rycroft was called for hooking,

the Wild took rare advantage of the extra skater and took a 1-0

lead.

Blues goalie Reinhard Divis denied a slap shot by Brent Burns,

but Andrew Brunette was there for the rebound. He dished it across

the crease to Veilleux, who sent a backhander high into the net.

Minnesota's power-play conversion rate, less than 14 percent,

was 28th in the NHL this season.

The Wild, outshot 10-5 in the first period, took a 2-0 lead

midway through the third when Gaborik's rising wrist shot from the

faceoff dot caught a tiny gap between the post and the left leg pad

of Divis.

Divis stopped 22 of 24 shots. Divis made a sharp leg kick in the

third period to deny Gaborik on a penalty shot after Jeff Finley

pulled him down in the St. Louis zone.

Divis was playing for the first time since March 17 to give

Chris Osgood a break in goal.

"He played outstanding," Kitchen said, contradicting the

self-analysis Divis gave of his performance. "That's a tough game

to play in for a goalie. We left a lot of loose pucks in front, but

he was terrific."Game notes
Gaborik, with 18 goals, finished second on the team behind

Alexandre Daigle in scoring. Daigle had 20 goals. ... St. Louis

went 0-2-2 against Minnesota this season.