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Backstrom 'getting better,' not sure about Game 3

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- For the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury shortly before the start of Game 1's Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom addressed the media Saturday following the team's practice, one in which he participated.

"I for sure want to get back out there as soon as possible," Backstrom said. "It's getting better, it's getting there. It's going to take time, but it's something to work on every day. Every morning when you wake up, you hope it's better."

Backstrom was expected to start Game 1 when, during warm-ups, he pushed off his left leg to try to stop a puck. He leaned over on the ice in obvious pain and limped back to the locker room.

About 15 minutes before puck drop, Josh Harding was thrust into the starting lineup for the first time in more than two months and stopped 35 shots in a 2-1 overtime loss Tuesday. Harding was stellar again in Game 2, stopping 43 of 47 shots in a 5-2 loss.

The 43 saves established a new Wild record for saves in regulation of a playoff game.

"[Friday night], we were not good in front of him," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "We gave up chance after chance, and he was standing tall for us. The goals they scored, he really had no chance on them."

Yeo wouldn't say which way he was leaning on a starting goaltender for Game 3 on Sunday, but Backstrom seemed to hint that he may not be all the way back from his ailment in time.

"It's getting better, it'll get there sooner or later," Backstrom said. "Every day you try to make some practice. We'll see where we are [Sunday] morning."

Asked if he felt he'd be comfortable to start, Backstrom wouldn't reveal where he's at.

"That's something we talk about in the room with the guys and the coaches," he said. "That's a different decision."

In other injury news, the Wild practiced Saturday without forward Jason Pominville and defenseman Clayton Stoner. Neither is likely to play Sunday.

Pominville missed the final two games of the regular season and both games thus far in this series with an upper-body injury.

Stoner was checked hard into the boards early in Game 1 and did not play in Game 2. He was replaced in the lineup by Justin Falk.

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