Wild gets a win and yet another injury issue

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 10, 2012 - 2:18 AM

Powering through despite being a defenseman short, the Wild now faces a big problem with goaltending depth.

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GLENDALE, ARIZ. - You can't make up what's going on with the Wild.

Thursday night, the injury-demolished team had to play short one defenseman against the Phoenix Coyotes because Jared Spurgeon was sick, Clayton Stoner wasn't healthy and Tyler Cuma couldn't make his plane.

During the eventual 3-2 shootout victory by the Wild, players such as Devin Setoguchi were running back and forth to the locker room in search of the nearest garbage can. And to top things off, goalie Josh Harding was lost midway through the second period after "tweaking something" in his lower body.

Harding, who had stopped all 24 shots he faced, was replaced by an ice-cold Matt Hackett, who gave up two goals 65 seconds apart early in the third period before winning his first NHL shootout.

"Unbelievable character win," said coach Mike Yeo, who watched defensemen Marco Scandella, Tom Gilbert and Steve Kampfer all log over 30 minutes.

But now the Wild's in a goaltending pickle. Niklas Backstrom is sidelined with a groin injury. Fourth goalie Darcy Kuemper might be out for the season because of an upper body injury. And fifth goalie Dennis Endras left to play for IFK-Helsinki months ago.

So, who will back up Hackett when the Wild plays host to the Calgary Flames on Sunday?

"I've never seen anything like this. I mean, every game it's something," General Manager Chuck Fletcher said.

Kuemper is being flown to Minnesota to see the Wild's doctors, but he might need surgery, Fletcher said. The Wild's options are to sign a goalie on an American Hockey League deal or a goalie playing in Europe whose team won't make the playoffs and who won't play in the world championships.

Fletcher already was scanning those lists during the second intermission. If the Wild goes that route, the goalie would have to clear waivers first, meaning,

"I guess we'll have to find another Paul Deutsch for Sunday," said Fletcher, referring to the 51-year-old Bloomington beer league goalie the Wild signed to an amateur tryout Nov. 23.

Deutsch took part in warmups before that game against Nashville, but Hackett made it just in time to back up Backstrom.

"Let's hope Harding is day-to-day," said Fletcher.

In the meantime, depending on Harding's timeframe, the net belongs to Hackett, 22, who backstopped Houston to the Calder Cup Finals last year.

"I'm ready," said Hackett, who is 3-2 in eight appearances (three starts) with a 1.89 goals against average and .943 save percentage. "I'm a young guy coming in and all I want to do is show I can play in this league."

The Wild built a 2-0 lead early in the first 5:04 on goals 58 seconds apart by Kyle Brodziak and Kampfer -- Brodziak's career-high 17th and Kampfer's first with Minnesota. The Coyotes rallied in the third on goals by Raffi Torres and Lauri Korpikoski.

In the shootout, Ray Whitney and Erik Christensen exchanged goals before Shane Doan and Setoguchi exchanged goals in Round 4. Dany Heatley, who has struggled in shootouts all year, won it in the fifth round.

"Man, that was a relief," Warren Peters said of the Wild stopping a five-game losing streak.

"That could easily have sunk us," Brodziak said. "But right from the get-go, everybody was ready to play."

Added Hackett, "The boys battled hard. I mean five D, they did an unbelievable job out there."

  • WILD 3, PHOENIX 2 (SO)

    Up next: 5 p.m. Sunday vs. Calgary • Xcel Energy Center • TV: FSN (100.3-FM)

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