Josh Harding will get his second consecutive start and the Chicago Blackhawks hope to make his night a lot tougher when they host the Minnesota Wild in Game 2 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series tonight.
Harding was tremendous in a last-minute start in Game 1, a 2-1 overtime victory for the Blackhawks. Wild coach Mike Yeo said Harding should use that game for confidence, if it’s needed.
“For him, there are a lot of positives to take out of the game,” Yeo said. “As much as anything else, it’s the confidence of going out and playing well. For a guy who’s missed a lot of hockey, it’s not like he hasn’t played good hockey before. Hopefully it’s a statement to himself that ‘I’m getting my game.’”
Clayton Stoner, who took a big hit from Andrew Shaw in Game 1, is also out tonight. Jason Pominville (upper body) did not make the trip. Ray Emery and Dave Bolland (both lower body) are out for Chicago.
For the Blackhawks, it’s a matter of getting started quicker and getting to Harding quicker. The Blackhawks did neither of those in Game 1 on Tuesday night, although they were more themselves as the game continued.
Captain Jonathan Toews said the fast start is a must tonight.
“We want to be in control of the series but that just comes with worrying about and playing your own game,” he said. “You’d like to believe you have another level to bring this game to. That’s what we’re thinking about doing. We’re really focused on having a better start today.”
[RELATED: Hawks seek quick start in Game 2]
And as for Harding, the Blackhawks want to get his attention quickly.
“No matter who’s in the net, you respect them,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “But we’ve got to make it tougher on them.”