Wild to start Harding against undefeated ‘Hawks

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On the eve of “rivalry night” against one of the NHL’s two undefeated teams, the Minnesota Wild announced they’ll be starting backup goalie Josh Harding when they host the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.

No. 1 netminder Niklas Backstrom has played two games in the last three nights — a 5-4 OT loss to St. Louis and a 3-2 win over Columbus on Tuesday — so it’s not surprising the Wild are turning to Harding.

It’s also not surprising given Harding’s career numbers against Chicago: 6-3 , 2.32 goals against average and .930 save percentage, with three of those wins coming at the Xcel Energy Center.

That said, it’ll be interesting to see how Harding rebounds after a rough outing against Detroit.

He was tagged for five goals on 27 shots in a 5-3 loss to the Wings on Jan. 25, with Minnesota Star-Tribune writer Mike Russo saying Harding “lost his net” on Henrik Zetterberg’s marker.

Of note, the Chicago game will be Harding’s third start since news broke of him being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis during the lockout. The 28-year-old won his first start of the year with a 1-0 shutout over Dallas.