Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Hackett wins NHL debut as Harding, Setoguchi injured

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: December 7, 2011 - 10:39 AM

Early morning update from Northern California: The Wild practices in a few hours here in San Jose, so I'll blog as soon as I know the extent of Devin Setoguchi and Josh Harding injuries. Like I said, I think the Wild will be without Setoguchi for awhile. I may be in the air when the news comes out, but I'll talk to Mike Yeo this afternoon after the Wild lands in L.A. and blog later.

Matt Hackett, at 21 years of age, became the 10th Wild goalie all-time to win a game tonight and fourth to do so in his NHL debut (Backstrom, Harding, Derek Gustafson).

Harding was injured 1:11 into the game with the Wild trailing 1-0 and down 8-0 in shots. But in came Hackett, the 2009 third-rounder and nephew of former NHL goalie Jeff Hackett, and Matt stopped all 34 shots he faced as the Wild, like usual, rallied for the W.

It was the Wild's 15th win in 19 games and third five-game win streak over that stretch. League-leading Minnesota tied a franchise record with a five-game road win streak.

"Really impressive, really impressive, and it's not an easy game to go in and play your first game against, it's not an easy situation to go and play your first game," coach Mike Yeo said. "But he was in control all night."

But now the bad news: Devin Setoguchi looks like he suffered a serious right leg injury. I think knee, but we will see. He was wearing a soft cast on his right leg under his pants after the game, limping badly and being consoled by folks.

Yeo had no update after the game, but I'm sure we'll get one Wednesday. This will be the second consecutive visit the Wild lost a top-6 forward in San Jose. Guillaume Latendresse has missed 13 games with a concussion since being here.

Yeo also didn't have an update on Harding, but it's going to be a concussion or strained neck or something. His face was blank and he didn't move his neck much after the game. He was accidentally hit in the head by teammate Nick Schultz as he tried to fend off Joe Pavelski when Harding dropped a Patrick Marleau shot.

I talked to Niklas Backstrom after the game, and he said he's close and is looking forward to his first full practice Wednesday before saying he's ready to start Thursday in LA.

As for Hackett, he was still shaking after the game as he was mobbed by his Houston teammates. In a special thing, the Wild has so many young guys up that he got to share tonight with many of his teammates from both this year and last year's Calder Cup Finals run.

"We're all really happy for him," defenseman Marco Scandella said. "He's a great goalie, and he showed it tonight. He stepped in in a tough situation and looked really confident. He's a great person. I'm really happy for him."

Hackett said the first person he planned to call was his father. His uncle, Jeff, played San Jose's first-ever game in Vancouver, a 42-save loss.

"I didn't have too much time to get nervous," Hackett said. "I just jumped in there and tried to stop pucks. It was fun."

Not a good start for the Wild, but slowly but surely behind Hackett's poised play and the Wild finding its legs and forecheck, it rallied. It's the 12th time it has given up the first goal and won.

Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard led the rally. Bouchard's goal, the winner late in the first, was his first power-play goal since Dec. 1, 2008.

Couple notes from the Wild: Has won each of its last 9, 1-goal games, 11-2-3 in one-goal games

-- Was the first Wild win at San Jose since 3/5/09, now 2-8-1 last 11 trips. 1st regulation win in SJ since 10/21/06 (4-1)

Wild is 12-6-0 when allowing 1st goal, including wins in last 4 road games

That's it for me. Getting a lot of questions when the Wild will finally get its due from the national media.

ESPN the Magazine, Yahoo! and Sporting News were here tonight thanks to the Board of Governors meetings being in Pebble Beach, so look for that soon.

I will have a Hackett follow for Thursday's paper and injury updates, obviously.

 

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