Hopefully it’s a minor injury, but it’s quite remarkable just how many times in Josh Harding’s career he’s had a chance to seize the reins from an injured Niklas Backstrom … and then gets hurt himself.
It’s got to be a half-dozen times now, including in last year’s playoffs actually.
The latest was tonight during a 3-1 Wild win over Carolina when Harding sustained some kind of lower-body injury while trying to stop Alex Semin’s laser with one second left in a second-period power play. I thought Harding spent the rest of the period flexing his left knee, but some on Twitter say right.
He gutted it out the rest of the period before Backstrom, who hadn’t played since Oct. 8 and isn’t 100 percent yet from his knee injury, played the third period, entered unenviably on a Hurricanes power play but stopped all seven shots he saw.
Hopefully it’s not major because for Harding because he had been playing sensationally the past 16 days in relief of Backstrom. Harding made 20 of 21 stops through two periods and earned the win, which makes up for the bogus loss he got in Nashville for only giving up one penalty-shot goal. He has stopped eight goals in nine games and has a 1.00 GAA and .953 save percentage.
Coach Mike Yeo offered no specifics of Harding’s injury, not a severity as of now.
Yeo wasn’t overly enamored with the way his team played tonight either, although let’s be honest, the Wild hasn’t gotten the full two points in four or five games this season it arguably deserved to win. It’s about time the Wild got two for a game in maybe shouldn’t have won.
The Wild caught a break four minutes in when Marco Scandella, who played a solid game and swept a puck from the Wild’s blue paint late in the third, sent Mikael Granlund in alone. Cam Ward slid across and got hurt. Carolina’s already announced he’ll miss up to a month with a lower-body injury
Anton “Borat” Khudobin is back in Raleigh injured, so third goalie Justin Peters made his season debut and Nino Niederreiter and Zach Parise scored on the first two shots Minnesota registered on Peters.
Niederreiter’s first career power-play goal was a sick (as the kids say) shot off a sick pass from Granlund. Parise’s goal was batted out of the air off Jared Spurgeon’s shot off the post. I really liked Spurgeon’s game in relief of injured Jonas Brodin tonight. By the way, Brodin looked like Sloth from Goonies in the locker room this morning. He looked much better at the game tonight in the press box and again is expected to skate Friday before the team flies to Chicago.
Remember, Charlie Coyle is closing in on a return too and my guess is Nov. 1 vs. Montreal is the target…Gives him four practices beforehand.
The Wild didn’t play well after the first though. Granlund and Dany Heatley took two penalties in the first four minutes of the second and the momentum was turned after Semin scored.
Heatley had an up and down game. Got chances, snapped a 10-game goal drought (longest of career) with an empty-netter, but took the penalty, turned some pucks over and seemed to fall an inordinate amount of times.
But Yeo put him out there in hopes of getting the goal, which Matt Cooke charitably set Heatley up for.
“A big part of why he’s out there, let’s be honest, is to try to get him that and get him off the squeezing the stick and having it on your mind,” Yeo said. “Hopefully he can just relax and play” and this “kickstarts” him.
Heatley said for the first time this season, he felt good tonight and hopes to build off this. As Parise said, “It’s just a really good shot of confidence. Hopefully we’ll see that from him because we need a lot of goals from him.”
The Canes played the Wild well, were in Minnesota’s face in the neutral zone all night and made life tough. But after not liking his team’s game through two, Yeo felt the Wild won its battles much of the third.
Anyway, that’s it for. Check out the gamer on the, uh, game and I retopped my notebook with Heatley’s first goal and turned Justin Fontaine/Justin Faulk into an online sidebar.
Talk to you after practice Friday. I will try to blog as soon as I can, but I’ve got to get my Sunday stuff written and filed, cover practice, book it to the airport for my flight to Chicago and write the daily stuff for the paper. So chance the blog may have to wait ‘til I’m in the air or after I land in Chicago.