Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 5/7/13
ST. PAUL, Minn. As if being down starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom wasn't tough enough for the Minnesota Wild against the league's top team in the first round of playoffs, Minnesota might have lost backup Josh Harding, too. Harding, starting all four playoff games in place of Backstrom, left Tuesday night's Game 4 in the series against the Chicago Blackhawks with an apparent leg injury. Harding was replaced by rookie Darcy Kuemper, who gave up a goal to Chicago's Patrick Sharp on the first shot he faced. Harding, who has amazed many by having a strong series after he spent much of the season on injured reserve while dealing with a change in medication to combat his multiple sclerosis, was run into by Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews during the first period Tuesday. Toews went hard into Harding, who fell and had hit the goalpost with his each of his legs splitting the post. Toews fell on Harding, who was slow to get up, but played the remainder of the period. He was in obvious pain and was checked on by trainers during the next intermission, but he stayed in the game. Harding was seen shaking his left leg often. Kuemper, 23, replaced Harding to start the second period facing a 1-0 deficit. The rookie is making his NHL playoff debut. Backstrom, who started 26 of the Wild's final 27 regular season games, was hurt in pregame warm-ups prior to Game 1 of the series leading to Harding's string of strong games. Harding, who had played one game in the NHL since Feb. 7, allowed nine goals on 118 shots faced in the series for a .924 save percentage against Chicago, the league's highest scoring team in the Western Conference. Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
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