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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Josh Harding, Cam Ward both injured during Wild's win over Carolina; Heatley scores!

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: October 24, 2013 - 11:30 PM

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.


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
New Orleans 99
Minnesota 84 FINAL
Oklahoma City 92
Orlando 94 FINAL
Memphis 103
Boston 99 FINAL
Utah 90
Denver 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 102
Army 68 FINAL
American Univ 66
Wright State 64 FINAL
Detroit 53
Syracuse 83 FINAL
North Carolina 93
Cleveland State 56 FINAL
Oakland 59
Delaware State 54 FINAL
NC Central 55
High Point 63 FINAL
Presbyterian 54
Howard 45 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 42
Coppin State 84 FINAL
NC A&T 71
Nicholls 51 FINAL
Northwestern St 80
Hampton 56 FINAL
SC State 65
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Campbell 78
MD-Eastern Shore 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Stephen F Austin 82 FINAL
Lamar 65
Central Arkansas 67 FINAL
New Orleans 87
Norfolk State 70 FINAL
Savannah State 54
SE Louisiana 61
Sam Houston St 80 FINAL
Abilene Christian 63
McNeese State 84 FINAL
Incarnate Word 86
Milwaukee 48 FINAL
Valparaiso 73
Alcorn State 66 FINAL
Alabama A&M 78
Southern U 59 FINAL
Alabama State 63
Prairie View 68 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 105
Texas 86 FINAL
Iowa State 89
Texas Southern 85 FINAL
Miss Valley St 84
Long Island 85 FINAL
Bryant 88
Central Conn St 51 FINAL
St Francis-NY 49
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 87 FINAL
Wagner 74
Delaware State 59 FINAL
NC Central 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 61
Coppin State 49 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 88 FINAL
SC State 53
Norfolk State 54 FINAL
Savannah State 56
MD-Eastern Shore 54 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Angelo State 55 FINAL
Abilene Christian 70
Samford 32 FINAL
(25) Chattanooga 49
Prairie View 83 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Alcorn State 58 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
Southern U 53 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 52
(12) Texas A&M 61 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 79
Robert Morris 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 44
East Tenn St 72 FINAL
Mercer 70
Wofford 56 FINAL
Furman 58
Morehead St 64 FINAL
Tenn Tech 54
Illinois 57 FINAL
Michigan 70
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 59 FINAL
Auburn 48
(15) Nebraska 72 FINAL
(20) Iowa 78
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