WINNIPEG – Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding missed his scheduled start Saturday after sustaining an apparent lower-body injury during warm-ups before a game against the Winnipeg Jets.
Niklas Backstrom started in Harding's place in his first game since leaving the Wild's game Nov. 13 against the Toronto Maple Leafs after a collision with Nazem Kadri. The Wild had activated Backstrom from injured reserve Saturday and returned Darcy Kuemper to the Iowa Wild, the team's American Hockey League affiliate.
The injury to Harding forced the Wild to play most of the first period without a backup goaltender. Kuemper was reassigned to Iowa early Saturday afternoon but returned to MTS Centre in time to get his gear on and back up Backstrom late in the first.
Wild coach Mike Yeo did not provide an update on Harding's health after the game. His 1.48 goals-against average ranks second in the NHL and he is tied for second in the League with 13 wins and two shutouts. His save percentage (.939) is among the top 10.
Backstrom began the game against Winnipeg with a 1-1-2 record in seven games to go with a 3.30 GAA and a .874 save percentage.