Wild faces goalie issues, but Hawks won’t take it for granted
BY MARK POTASH email@example.com May 7, 2013 11:33PM
Updated: June 9, 2013 6:43AM
ST. PAUL, Minn. — With spunk to spare, the upstart Minnesota Wild has a problem that gumption might not be able to solve. It’s running out of goalies.
Josh Harding, who replaced starter Niklas Backstrom prior to Game 1, suffered an injury late in the first period of Tuesday night’s 3-0 loss to the Blackhawks at Xcel Energy Center and was replaced by third-stringer Darcy Kuemper at the start of the second period.
Kuemper, 23, had played in six NHL games. He was 1-2 in three starts.
‘‘That sucks,’’ defender Ryan Suter said. ‘‘But no matter who’s back there we’ve got to play hard. It’s frustrating, but injuries are part of the game.’’
Kuemper’s inexperience — and perhaps his nervousness — showed immediately when Hawks winger Patrick Sharp beat him with a 50-foot wrist shot on the first shot of the game he faced.
‘‘Yeah, it wasn’t a good goal, but it’s a tough situation to go into,’’ Kuemper said. ‘‘But no excuses. Not a goal I like to let in.’’
Kuemper said he was not told he was going into the game until just before the Wild went back on the ice.
‘‘Obviously, it’s not the easiest thing to do,’’ said Kuemper, who stopped 16 of 18 shots, ‘‘but it’s your job as a backup. I just tried to get ready. I saw he was hurting a bit. I stretched a bit between periods and just went out and tried to get focused as quick as I could.’’
After the game, Wild coach Mike Yeo said he had not talked to the team’s trainer and did not know Harding’s condition. Or Backstrom’s availability, for that matter.
‘‘It’s quite a unique situation tonight,’’ Yeo said. ‘‘We’ll update that a little later.’’
The Wild at the least will go into a must-win situation in Game 5 at the United Center with the goalie situation in flux. But the Hawks won’t take anything for granted.
‘‘Just gotta look at the quality of the organization they have over there — the type of players and leaders they have,’’ Sharp said. ‘‘Mikko [Koivu] is a great captain. Zach [Parise] plays hard. Suter’s one of the best.
‘‘They’re not going to go away. Doesn’t matter who’s in net for them, doesn’t matter who’s playing in that lineup. They’re well-coached, and we expect them to play their best game next game.’’