DETROIT — As if things weren't bad enough for the Wild with captain Mikko Koivu and wingers Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Guillaume Latendresse hurt, goalie Niklas Backstrom will be sidelined two to four weeks because of a strained groin.
Backstrom's season is in jeopardy if he misses the high end of that window.
"Obviously we don't have lot of time here in the regular season," coach Mike Yeo said. Backstrom, 17-17-6 with a 2.44 goals-against average and .920 save percentage, was hurt less than three minutes into Thursday's game at Montreal after dropping down into his butterfly and kicking out his right pad to stop an Erik Cole shot. He immediately writhed in pain and was unable to put pressure on his left leg.
An MRI showed "no issues with his hip or anything like that," said Yeo, which is good news because Backstrom has had prior hip surgeries.
With Backstrom out, Matt Hackett was recalled to back up Josh Harding on Friday in Detroit and for the foreseeable future. Hackett, who turns 22 Wednesday, is 2-0 with a 0.63 goals against average for the Wild in five appearances, including Friday when he replaced Harding in the third period after he gave up his sixth goal.
Hackett won his first game in relief of an injured Harding in San Jose on Dec. 6, then his first NHL start two nights later in Los Angeles. He's stopped 100 of 102 shots for a .980 save percentage.
"The window's opened a little bit more than it was in the past," Yeo said. "Every time he's come up before he knew it was kind of a short-term thing. For a kid like him, he's just looking for an opportunity, a chance to come up and prove himself."
With the news so fresh and a game Friday, the coaches hadn't come with a plan on how to rotate Harding and Hackett. There's only two sets of back-to-backs the rest of the season and six road games.
"If somebody is able to get on a run here, then we'll be happy to give [the net] to him," Yeo said.Paging goalie No. 3
Asked which skater would have had to play goal if Harding had also gotten hurt in Montreal, Yeo said, laughing: "Don't ask that because we were still trying to figure it out, to be honest with you. I didn't want to sit there and start asking players who had played goalie back in pee-wee hockey, so we didn't have that much of a plan. The plan was to make sure to protect Hards really well."Christensen scratched
Erik Christensen was scratched for a second consecutive game.
"I'm not going to take Kass out. He's our goal scorer now," Yeo said, kiddingly referring to enforcer Matt Kassian, who scored twice against the Canadiens.
The Wild lost in a shootout. Christensen is tied for sixth in the NHL with 26 career shootout goals.
"When you get to the shootout, you're sitting there looking and saying, 'Man, I wish we had Christensen in the lineup right now,' " Yeo said.
But Yeo won't dress Christensen simply because he's good in shootouts. He is minus-11 in 12 games.
"I'm not trying to pick on Crusher here, but ... there's lots of guys that haven't been scoring goals," Yeo said. "Stephane Veilleux doesn't have a whole lot of points right now, but he's not a liability at all when he's on the ice, and he brings us energy and emotion.
"It's OK if you don't score, but just be effective in the game and make sure you don't cost us anything."