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Wild's Harding practices with team

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding practiced with the team prior to the game against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. Harding has been out for two weeks due to illness.

Harding and the Wild have refused divulge whether his illness is related to his multiple sclerosis. He missed four games in December as doctors adjusted his medication for the disease.

"Wasn't feeling good, obviously," Harding said. "If I felt even a little bit like I could play, I would have. But there are some things that are out of my control."

Harding said he's been skating on his own for "three or four" days now, but Tuesday was seen as a major step toward getting him back in the lineup soon. Entering play Tuesday his 1.65 goals-against average is the best in the NHL and his .933 save percentage is second-best.

"The plan is to focus on [Tuesday]," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "Obviously it's a good first step to get him on the ice."

Harding hasn't played since a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 31.

Ottawa also got positive news on the injury front with forward Chris Neil close to returning from a hamstring injury. Neil has missed the Senators' past four games and hasn't suited up since Dec. 30.

"He probably could go if we absolutely needed him to," Senators coach Paul MacLean said. "But we really want to make sure, with the type of injury he has, that he's really ready to go. We want to make sure when he gets back in the lineup that he's playing in all the rest of the games and not just a couple."

Here are the projected lineups for the Senators and Wild:


Clarke MacArthur - Kyle Turris - Bobby Ryan

Cory Conacher - Mika Zibanejad - Milan Michalek

Colin Greening - Jason Spezza - Mark Stone

Matt Kassian - Zack Smith - Erik Condra

Jared Cowen - Erik Karlsson

Marc Methot - Patrick Wiercioch

Chris Phillips - Cody Ceci

Robin Lehner

Craig Anderson

Scratched: Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Eric Gryba, Joe Corvo

Out: Chris Neil (hamstring)


Nino Niederreiter - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Jason Zucker - Charlie Coyle - Dany Heatley

Matt Cooke - Kyle Brodziak - Justin Fontaine

Stephane Veilleux - Erik Haula - Torrey Mitchell

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Nate Prosser

Clayton Stoner - Jonathon Blum

Darcy Kuemper

Niklas Backstrom

Scratched: Mike Rupp, Keith Ballard

Injured: Zach Parise (fractured foot), Mikko Koivu (fractured ankle), Jared Spurgeon (foot), Josh Harding (illness)

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