Josh Harding

Wild’s Harding diagnosed with multiple sclerosis

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On Wednesday, Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding announced he’d been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Harding, 28, received the news over a month ago but only recently shared the information with people outside his immediate family, including Wild GM Chuck Fletcher and head coach Mike Yeo.

Here’s more, from the Minnesota Star Tribune’s Mike Russo:

[Multiple sclerosis is] an incurable autoimmune disease in which the body randomly attacks and eats away the protective lining of his nerves and causes them to scar. It causes problems with balance, fatigue and blurred vision. There are 25,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States every year.

“I had a couple days where I felt bad for myself, but no more,” said Harding, who plans on continuing his career. “There’s things in life that happen. Sometimes you can’t explain it. You deal with it.”

Harding first learned he might have MS on Sept. 27, when Wild team doctor Dan Peterson noticed an abnormality on Harding’s MRI.

That led to a series of tests and meetings with Dr. Jonathan Calkwood of the Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology — dubbed the “MS guru” by Peterson — who confirmed the diagnosis and started Harding on an series of medications.

The Saskatchewan native, who signed a three-year, $5.7 million deal with the Wild in June, was off-ice for 1.5 months dealing with the initial stages of MS, but was cleared to skate two weeks ago.

Harding says he plans to continue his career.

“I know what my overall goal is to be, and that’s a No. 1 goalie of the Minnesota Wild and to win a Stanley Cup here,” he said. “It would make me happy to overcome this. Not just overcome this, but to really succeed with it.”

Update

Fletcher has issued a statement on the Wild website:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Josh and his family following the news that he has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

“Josh’s competitive fire has led him to a successful career in the NHL and we know he will approach this new battle in the same manner.”

It should be noted Harding’s situation mirrors that of former Bruins draftee Jordan Sigalet.

Sigalet was diagnosed with MS while playing for Bowling Green in 2004, but went on to a stellar career with the Falcons and subsequently played for Boston’s AHL affiliate in Providence for three seasons.

He appeared in one contest for the Bruins in 2005-06 — a 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning — and now serves as the goaltending coach for Calgary’s AHL affiliate in Abbotsford.

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

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NBCSN screen
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Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

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Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.

Blues aim to raise money for victims of Fort McMurray fires

An evacuee puts gas in his car on his way out of Fort McMurray, Alberta, as a wildfire burns in the background Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The raging wildfire emptied Canada's main oil sands city, destroying entire neighborhoods of Fort McMurray, where officials warned Wednesday that all efforts to suppress the fire have failed.  (Jason Franson /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
AP
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Fires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, and the St. Louis Blues are doing their part to help those who were affected.

Here’s what the team is doing to raise money during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:

Proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.

Blues forward Scottie Upshall shared his thoughts with the Associated Press regarding several family members being among those evacuated from the area.

“It’s been a great city, a city that’s survived for many years through some tough times and for me, growing up there doesn’t seem too long ago,” Upshall said. “Places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be really, really tough to take. But as long as everyone’s OK, that’s the main thing.”

Other people from around the hockey world weighed in on the scary scene, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who told the Ottawa Citizen that “it hurts a lot.”

People shared some scary sights from the evacuation.