CHICAGO - The Minnesota Wild will trust their last-ditch playoff hopes to a goaltender who couldn't finish game 4.
Head Coach Mike Yeo announced after Thursday's morning skate that Josh Harding will start in tonight's make-or-break game 5 against the Chicago Blackhawks. Harding was injured Tuesday night when Jonathan Toews collided with him on a first period breakaway.
Yeo spoke with Harding following practice, a conversation during which Harding told him he was good to go. The head coach added that "he had to trust him (Harding)" at his word.
There are questions about Harding's fitness: KARE 11's Dave Schwartz and Keith Leventhal, both in Chicago to cover game 5, noted that Harding wasn't moving well during the skate and seemed to be struggling.
Mr. Schwartz tweeted this direct quote from Keith; "Josh Harding is getting off the ice like I get out of bed in the morning...slowly."
Darcy Kuemper, who relieved Harding Tuesday and gave up two goals in the final two periods, will serve as backup. Wild mainstay Nick Backstrom, who has yet to play in this series after being injured before game one, is out again tonight.
Other than the goalie situation, all of the conversation during Thursday's presser was about the "do or die" mentality of tonight's game.
The Wild must win to avoid a first round exit.
Yeo and his team say that there is a fine line between playing desperate and nervous, and they have to walk it tonight.
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