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Harding impresses both sides in emergency Game 1 start

May 1, 2013, 9:05 AM EDT

Josh Harding #37 of the Minnesota Wild makes a save against the Chicago Blackhawks in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on April 30, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Wild 2-1 in overtime.
(April 29, 2013 - Source: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding wasn’t able to beat the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of their first-round series, but he did more than just hold his own.

Harding, who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, played in just five games this season and hadn’t started in a contest since Jan. 30 going into Tuesday’s action. Niklas Backstrom was supposed to play between the pipes for Minnesota in the series opener, but he was hurt during the pregame skate.

Despite Harding’s lack of playing time recently and the short notice, he made 35 saves and gave Minnesota a chance to win, although Chicago ultimately earned a 2-1 overtime victory.

All the same, what Harding accomplished under the circumstances did not go unnoticed by either side.

“Of course (we’re impressed),” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said in a CSN Chicago report. “Everyone knows his story this year and he’s one of those guys, I’m sure, who wants to step up in the playoffs. He played a heck of a game, considering that, tonight. We can expect the same thing from him next game. We want to get on him more and make his job tougher than tonight.”

“You have to applaud the way Josh came in and in a tough situation, played the way he did,” Wild forward Kyle Brodziak added. “Everybody who’s been here for a while knows [Harding’s] capabilities and you saw it tonight, he’s a strong, confident goaltender who’s big in there. We’re confident with whoever’s in the net for us.”

After the game Wild coach Mike Yeo said that that Backstrom had suffered a lower-body injury, but didn’t provide much information beyond that, according to the Star tribune. It’s not clear who the Wild’s starter will be in Game 2 on Friday.

  1. jcmeyer10 - May 1, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    If you weren’t impressed you aren’t a hockey fan.

    • hockeywithdrawal - May 1, 2013 at 10:22 AM

      If you weren’t impressed you’re an as*hole, to be perfectly honest…it was hard not to start pulling for the Wild in that one.

  2. malkinrulez - May 1, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    I was cheering for Harding truly a professional with all he has going on. He deserved a better result. Was a great game to watch.

    • noisetheorem - May 1, 2013 at 9:46 AM

      As a Hawks fan, I can’t be upset with the outcome, but I can still recognize a stellar performance. I think it was really low class of audience at the UC to be booing when he was given the third star of the game. We have a great team and he kept the door shut on us through most of 70 minutes. You have to respect it.

      • chicagobtech - May 1, 2013 at 10:25 AM

        The fans really booed Harding? As soon as the Bickel’s goal was scored I turned off the game. I’m glad Harding was recognized for his efforts, after his last game I was expecting him to be peppered all night, letting in more than two goals.

  3. 950003cups - May 1, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    Backstrom injured his courage in warmups. When the chips are high, some men rise, some men sink. Backstrom ran away. I hope he gets benched the rest of the series.

    Good luck Harding!

    • jb8383 - May 1, 2013 at 9:50 AM

      What are you talking about, the guy got hurt, you have no clue.

      • jcmeyer10 - May 1, 2013 at 9:53 AM

        Give 950000cups a break. He pushed through a pulled muscle after he was reached for more Doritos recently. So he knows how to be a warrior.

      • jb8383 - May 1, 2013 at 10:00 AM

        If there was any chance the guy could have played I’m sure he would have. He’s saying Backstrom should be benched….come on, I don’t think so.

      • jb8383 - May 1, 2013 at 10:02 AM

        Lol I just re-read your comment… my bad.

      • jb8383 - May 1, 2013 at 10:06 AM

        jcmeyer10, my bad, I thought for a quick sec you were actually defending him.

      • jcmeyer10 - May 1, 2013 at 10:06 AM

        Haha, it’s all good, glad we’re on the same page.

  4. sprtsfan1 - May 1, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    Wow, do you honestly think Backstrom didn’t want to play? Regardless, I thought Harding played awesome and I’m really happy for this kid getting the opportunity. As a Blackhawks fan, it looks like this might be the start of a great rivalry between these two teams. Gonna see each other a lot with the realignment. This series is just what the doctor ordered. Great Game! Go Hawks!

  5. steelpenbucs87 - May 1, 2013 at 9:42 AM

    Love this story. Masterson Lock.

  6. bmoreredfury311 - May 1, 2013 at 10:25 AM

    I was flipping between the hawks vs wild game and the blues vs kings game. It was a straight up goal-tending battle in both games. Harding was remarkable, coming into a playoff game against the hottest team in the league and he handled it like a champ. And even more impressive to only play 4 games in the regular season, just amazing. I wish this kid the best of luck.

  7. hammerhead5573 - May 1, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    This is what makes hockey a great sport. The Hawks giving praise to the goalie who nearly beat them. Meanwhile the Golden State Warriors( i think)coach Mark Jackson, ripped on opposing team because his player was fouled hard. Gimme a break.

  8. comeonnowguys - May 1, 2013 at 10:37 AM

    It’s a trap!

  9. 950003cups - May 1, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    Bunch of ass kissers here. I don’t believe Backstrom was injured. You guys believe everything you hear. The guy choked and ran. You’re all suckers.

    • windmiller4 - May 1, 2013 at 12:42 PM

      You idiot

    • prideonice - May 1, 2013 at 1:22 PM

      I was just wondering if you could enlighten all of us as to who your source is? Because I do believe everything I hear, unless it is something I’ve read in one of your posts.

    • slickvb82 - May 1, 2013 at 6:03 PM

      Haha you’re a complete moron, go comment on MotorSportsTalk

  10. capsrockva - May 1, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    that game was an awesome one to watch

  11. ashtongronholz8 - May 1, 2013 at 1:12 PM

    I highly doubt backstrom would do such a thing considering he’s fighting for a new contract. There’s not an NHL player out there that wouldn’t do everything In their power to play. Toughness and tenacity separates this sport from all else, and yes even Crosby would be considered a man compared to any basketball/soccer player

  12. thraiderskin - May 1, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    It was an amazing effort by Harding, but the Hawk’s goalie was also amazing. That game was so much fun to watch.

  13. bdnnbd - May 1, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    Don’t fall for the troll. Give him a break he hasn’t seen natural light in 6-8 weeks.

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