By Adam Hoge-
UNITED CENTER (CBS) It didn’t take long for the Blackhawks to gain a huge advantage in their opening round playoff series against the Minnesota Wild.
In fact, they did so before the puck was even dropped.
Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom suffered an injury during pregame warmups about 30 minutes before Game 1 was set to start at the United Center. It appeared to be a lower body injury suffered when he went for a rebound. After heading to the bench, Backstrom had to be helped to the locker room.
Backup goaltender Josh Harding resumed the duties in net during warmups and played very well on short notice, despite a 2-1 overtime loss to the Blackhawks. He made 35 saves on the night, giving his team a chance to steal Game 1 on the road.
“That’s your job as a backup goaltender to prepare like you might get in there,” Harding said after the game. “That’s what I took it as.”
Harding only played in five games for the Wild this season, posting a 3.24 goals against average and an .863 save percentage. One of his three starts came Jan. 30 against the Blackhawks in Minnesota when he was pulled just 6:45 into the game after allowing two goals.
If Backstrom is unable to return in time for Friday’s Game 2, the Wild will likely call up goaltender Darcy Kuemper from the Houston Aeros. Tuesday night, Kuemper was in Grand Rapids awaiting tomorrow’s Game 3 of the Aeros’ playoff series.
Backstrom started 42 of the 48 games for the Wild this season, posting a 24-15-3 record with a 2.48 GAA and .909 save percentage.
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