Josh Harding traveled with the Wild for Friday’s game in Winnipeg and took the morning skate, but won’t dress for tonight’s affair at the MTS Centre.
Harding, recently put on IR to undergo a change in treatment protocol for Multiple Sclerosis, has missed Minnesota’s last three games — allowing Niklas Backstrom to temporarily regain his No. 1 gig.
The veteran Finn hasn’t looked good, however, going 0-3-0 while surrendering 12 goals on 102 shots — an .882 save percentage. He also let in this weak effort from Rangers forward Chris Kreider in a 4-1 loss on Dec. 22:
The Wild need to get Harding back, and soon. GM Chuck Fletcher said that Harding would rejoin the team in Winnipeg — though he failed to say if Harding would return to play — and it’s clear the Wild are a different team in net with Harding than they are with Backstrom.
Harding, who has been nothing short of brilliant this season, ranks first in the NHL in goals-against average (1.51), tied for first in shutouts (3), second in save percentage (.939) and is tied for second in wins (18). He was named the league’s third star in November and is a major reason why the Wild are tied on points with Phoenix for the eighth and final playoff spot in the ultra-competitive Western Conference.
In other Wild news, leading goalscorer Zach Parise continues to deal with his injured foot and will also sit out tonight’s game. Head coach Mike Yeo said the club’s alternate captain is listed as day-to-day.
Meanwhile, defenseman Clayton Stoner didn’t make the trip to Winnipeg and will reportedly miss “a few games.”
Alexander Edler probably feels some serious shame right now.
The Vancouver Canucks defenseman is getting some heat for a bad blunder on what became the Los Angeles Kings’ overtime game-winning goal by Anze Kopitar.
You can see the decisive goal in the video above, which meant a 2-1 overtime victory for the Kings over the Canucks.
Just a (safe for work) sampling of the reactions toward Edler:
Again, those are the more … sanitized reactions.
Jacob Markstrom didn’t get the win despite keeping Vancouver in the game. The big Swede made 38 out of 40 saves, yet that last goal will burn.
For Los Angeles, it’s another reminder that this team sure is scrappy.
Let’s be honest: it’s better to go late into a game with a lead against the Kings, but a small margin makes for some serious discomfort.
Sometimes an angry Evgeni Malkin means a stray power play or two for his opponents, but it’s usually not the best idea to make him angry.
Giving a player that big and talented extra motivation just seems like a bad idea, right?
Joel Ward experienced that phenomenon on Tuesday, as Malkin responded to a blow from Ward with the goal you can see below.
Malkin scored a goal and two assists while Phil Kessel found the net twice in Pittsburgh’s 5-1 win against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.
Malkin now has a four-game goal streak going (five goals, three assists). He also has 13 points in his past seven games.
Marc-Andre Fleury deserves plenty of credit, too, as he stopped 33 out of 34 shots and continues to quietly generate some of the best work of his sometimes-polarizing career.
This was a nice way for the Penguins to begin a four-game Western road trip, although they’ll need to wait a while to try to keep it going; their next game comes in Los Angeles on Saturday.
You know what they say: “What a difference a game makes.”
Even in the 82-game marathon that an NHL regular season is, that can be true.
Ryan Suter admitted he went too far with comments during tough times, yet there he was on Tuesday night, grinning ear-to-ear after scoring the 2-1 goal that ended up being the game-winner.
Heck, people were even joking about things. The healing powers of winning, right?
As of this writing, this win places Minnesota in the last wild card spot, and they’re close to elbowing in on the Chicago Blackhawks (who own a standings point advantage, but have played two more games so far in 2015-16).
Jeremy Roenick labels this 2-1 win as a “team win” for Minnesota, and it showed on that 2-1 goal, as the Wild showed off some picture-perfect passing and a willingness to crash the net for rebounds.
Let’s face it, though; Devan Dubnyk deserves plenty of credit, too.
It won’t be easy in the Central Division, and things may get heated again. Still, this is the sort of win that may just help Minnesota build up some confidence.
When you’re talking about bright sides, most people believe that they boil down to the light at the end of the tunnel for the Philadelphia Flyers.
Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a little success in the present while waiting for that bright future, though.
The Flyers are providing at least a burst of sunshine lately, as Tuesday’s 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators gives them … (drum roll) their first three-game winning streak of this season.
Even in recent darker moments, Philly’s been pretty impressive on offense, so Flyers fans are likely relieved to see a relative offensive outburst.
Sure, it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns – Radko Gudas might have gotten himself into some trouble, for instance – yet this is still a nice sign of life for a team expected to finish in the draft lottery.
If that fails … hey, the future may require shades.