Josh Harding Makes Unexpected Playoff Debut in Goal for Wild, Makes 35 Saves in Overtime Loss

Josh HardingMinnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom tied for the NHL lead with 24 regular-season wins, but he wasn’t in net for the Wild’s playoff opener against the top-seeded Blackhawks on Tuesday.

That duty fell to seldom-used backup Josh Harding, who became the only goaltender on the Minnesota roster after Backstrom went down with an injury during warmups.

The Wild’s third-string goalie was with the club’s AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, meaning that goaltending coach Bob Mason may have been¬†pressed into action if Harding went down as well.

But Harding, seeing the first playoff action of his seven-year career, was stellar in net, holding the Western Conference’s highest-scoring team to one goal through more than 75 minutes of play before Chicago’s Bryan Bickell scored the game-winner 16:35 into overtime.

Harding made 35 saves in the contest, while Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford countered with 26 in Chicago’s 2-1 win.

© 2015 New England Sports Network.

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