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Harding Awarded NHL's 'First Star'

by Mike Doyle / Minnesota Wild

Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding’s stellar play has earned him the National Hockey League’s ‘First Star’ for the week ending Nov. 6.

Last week, Harding started all three games for the Minnesota Wild going 3-0-0 with a 0.99 GAA and a .968 SV%. The netminder stopped 90 of 93 shots during the three-game stretch.

“It is an individual award, but its not,” the humble Harding said. “The team’s played so good in front of me, and the D-men and forwards have been outstanding.”

Harding made 36 saves in a 2-1 OT win at Detroit (11/1), 24 saves in a 5-1 win vs. Vancouver (11/3) and 30 saves in a 2-1 win vs. St. Louis (11/5).

Head Coach Mike Yeo was not surprised by the NHL's decision.

“I was expecting that," Yeo said. "I would have been disappointed for him if that didn’t happen. He deserves it.”

The award is especially sweet for Harding, who missed the entire 2010-11 season with a knee injury. 

“It was hard, the year and a half I took off," said Harding about the vigorous rehabilitation to comeback this season. "It was a long road, but obviously I’m happy where I’m at right now."

On the year, Harding is a gaudy 4-0-1 with a 1.18 GAA and a .965 SV%. He leads all NHL goaltenders in save percentage and ranks second in goals-against average. The backstop is a big reason the Wild are currently second in the Northwest Division and fourth in the Western Conference with a 7-3-3 record.

“He literally was the number one star," Yeo said. "He had a phenomenal week.

“He battles out there. He battles and competes he never gives up on pucks and because of that he makes some spectacular saves.” 

Harding is feeling healthy, but still believes his game can improve. And if that is the case, the Wild will continue to be a force in the Western Conference.

“I feel 100 percent," Harding said. "I still know there are a lot of things with my game that I can clean up, just with movement and quickness, but right now I’m happy with were I’m at and if I work hard everyday I can keep it going.”

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