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 beenĀ 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.

Yardbarker

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