Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 3/24/13
ST. PAUL, Minn. With Niklas Backstrom starting 10 straight games, the Minnesota Wild switched backup goaltenders Sunday just to get work for their promising rookies. Minnesota assigned goaltender Matt Hackett and forward Jason Zucker to the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League and recalled goaltender Darcy Kuemper and forward Jake Dowell. Hackett, 23, and Kuemper, 22, have been the backups to Backstrom with Josh Harding on injured reserved. But Backstrom has started 14 of the past 15 games and the Wild want to make sure their promising youngsters continue to play for their development. Hackett hadn't played since being recalled on March 8 when Kuemper went on injured reserve. Hackett was 19-19-3 with a 2.56 goals-against average and .910 save percentage in 42 games for Houston this year. Kuemper was sent back to the Aeros earlier this month after he was activated off injured reserve. Kuemper was 1-2-0 with a 2.22 goals-against average and .924 save percentage in four games for Minnesota and made his NHL debut on Feb. 12. He was 13-7-0 with a 1.78 goals-against average and .937 save percentage at Houston. Zucker, 21, is another promising rookie who scored three goals in his first five games with the Wild after being recalled from Houston in February. He suffered an upper-body injury on March 12 when he took an illegal elbow to the head from Anaheim's Corey Perry and missed two games. Perry was suspended for four games. Pierre-Marc Bouchard took Zucker's spot on the second line after the injury and has points in four straight games (one goal, six assists) including three straight multi-point outings. Zucker returned and skated on the fourth line before he was assigned to Houston Sunday, where he had 19 goals and 22 assists in 47 games. Dowell, 28, had four goals, three assists and 29 penalty minutes in 26 games for Houston this season. He was signed as a free agent last summer by Minnesota. Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
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