Harding starts, Kuemper backing up for Wild in Game 5


Minnesota’s crease conundrum is solved — for now.

On Thursday, head coach Mike Yeo said Josh Harding would start Game 5 for the Wild, and would be backed up by rookie netminder Darcy Kuemper.

That might seem like a fairly ordinary decision, given the Harding-Kuemper combo has been used repeatedly during this series.

But this was anything but ordinary.

In Game 4, Harding — who assumed starting duties when Niklas Backstrom got hurt during warmup prior to Game 1 — left the game after the first period with what appeared to be a leg injury (‘Hawks captain Jonathan Toews landed awkwardly on Harding’s left leg.)

That forced Kuemper, 23, into his playoff debut.

What’s more, the injury to Harding meant Minnesota was without a backup goalie, forcing Backstrom into emergency relief (he was listed as a healthy scratch, but quickly got dressed and sat on the bench.)

During Thursday’s gameday skate, it seemed unclear who would get the nod for Game 5.

Mike Russo of the Minnesota Star-Tribune reported both Harding and Backstrom didn’t “look good” in stopping shots, and that Yeo was having mini-meetings all over the ice, often involving goalie coach Bob Mason.

The Wild and ‘Hawks get things underway tonight (9:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) at the United Center.