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MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUND-UP: Wild snaps winless streak, beat Flyers 2-0

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ST. PAUL -   Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding stopped all 21 shots he faced to lead the Wild in a 2-0 win over the Flyers from Xcel Energy Center. 

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It's Harding's third shutout of the season for Minnesota, which stopped a four-game slide  Jason Pominville and Charlie Coyle scored within minutes of each other early in the third to lead the Wild offense.  Ray Emery stopped 19 shots in the cage for Philadelphia.  The Flyers saw a two-game winning streak end.  Minnesota hosts Chicago on Thursday night.

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Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier says there is no reason to name a starting quarterback this early in the week, so he isn't going to do it.  Regular starter Christian Ponder left Sunday's overtime win with a concussion.  Matt Cassell came off the bench to spark a rally and later lead Minnesota to the game-winning field goal.  Frazier says they will wait to see how Ponder is doing before making a determination as to who will be under center when Minnesota visits Baltimore on Sunday.  Kickoff is noon.

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Official groundbreaking for a new Vikings stadium is this morning in downtown Minneapolis.  The purple-and-gold will play across the river for the next two seasons at the U-of-M's TCF Stadium, where Vikings VP Lester Bagley says they're working on final improvements.  Bagley says it's a great college stadium, but there's some work that needs to be done for NFL games.  Bagley says the Vikings are asking fans and the public to be patient because there's a brand new facility coming.

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Several groups are doing a "taxpayer reality check" at the State Capitol this morning, just before officials break ground for a new Vikings stadium in Minneapolis.  Taxpayers League President Ted Lillie says because electronic pulltabs didn't generate expected revenue, the state is now taxing smokers and small businesspeople to pay for a billionaire's stadium.  Lillie says Governor Dayton "talks about taking money from the wealthy and giving it to the rest of us -- and here we are doing just the opposite:  We're taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich to pay for the stadium."  The groups are calling on Governor Dayton to not commit any additional tax money to the stadium, and to oppose any additional tax increases to pay for stadium shortfalls or cost overruns.

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The Seatlle Seahawks used their stifling defense to hold the Saints to 188 total yards and beat New Orleans 34-7 on "Monday Night Football" in Seattle.  Michael Bennett returned a Drew Brees fumble 22 yards for a touchdown as Seattle built a 17-0 first-quarter lead.  Russell Wilson threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 47 yards on eight carries.  Marshawn Lynch rumbled for 45 more yards as Seattle took commanding control of the NFC and clinched a playoff berth in the process.  The 'Hawks are now 11-1 and two games clear of the 9-3 Saints for homefield advantage throughout the postseason.  Brees was held to 147 yards through the air and hit Jimmy Graham on a TD pass.  New Orleans managed just 44 yards on the ground in defeat.

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The University of Minnesota football team appears to be destined for Texas for the college bowl season.  There had been hope that the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida might choose Minnesota, but that possibility looks like a longshot now.  Gator Bowl president Rick Catlett told a newspaper in Athens, Georgia yesterday that his bowl game would like to invite Georgia from the SEC to take on either Michigan or Iowa from the Big Ten.  He did not mention Minnesota in the story.  The Gophers played in the Texas Bowl last year and would end up there again this season if two teams from the Big Ten advanced to BCS level bowl games.  If only one team from the league is in a BCS bowl game, then the Gophers would likely drop to the Heart of Dallas bowl, played in the Cotton Bowl.  Minnesota finished the season 8-4 after Saturday's 14-3 road loss to No. 11 Michigan State.

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Several Golden Gopher football players earned all-Big Ten honors for their play this season.  Minnesota senior defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman of Minneapolis was a first-team all-Big Ten choice by both the coaches and the media.  Senior defensive back Brock Vereen  of Valencia, California was a first-team choice by the league's coaches and an honorable mention selection by the media.  Sophomore defensive end Theiren Cockran  of Homestead, Florida was a second-team choice by the media, but left off of the coaches ballot.  Offensive guard Caleb Bak, punter Peter Mortell, and cornerback Eric Murray were honorable mention selections by both the media and coaches.  Tackle Josh Campion and guard Zac Epping won honorable mention honors from the media, while linebacker Aaron Hill was an honorable mention coaches pick.

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The University of Minnesota men's basketball team returns home for a game tonight against Florida State as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.  Tonight's game is a rematch between the two schools from last year's Challenge.  The Golden Gophers beat the Seminoles a year ago in Tallahassee 77-68.  Minnesota is 6-2, while FSU is 5-2.  Golden Gopher head coach Richard Pitino says this is an important game and he wants Minnesota fans to show up in force to help his team at Williams Arena.  Tipoff tonight is 8:30 p.m.

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The Minnesota Timberwolves and San Antonio Spurs are set to tip off tomorrow in Mexico City.  The Wolves are coming off of Sunday night's 113-103 loss at Oklahoma City, while the Spurs beat the Hawks last night 102-100 in Texas.  San Antonio has the best record in the NBA Western Conference at 15-3.  Minnesota is currently out of playoff position with a season mark of 9-10.  Wednesday's tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m.

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