Josh Harding is taking full advantage of the first opportunity in his career to be a No. 1 goalie.
The Wild's goalie was named the National Hockey League's Third Star of the Week, the league announced Monday.
He helped lead the Wild to three home victories last week over Toronto, Florida and Winnipeg. Harding was given the Toronto game off but he had to finish the final two-and-a-half periods after Niklas Backstrom was run over by Nazem Kadri.
We're still in November and Harding is already halfway (17) to his career-high of 34 games played in one season. This is his eighth season, and he was supposed to be Backstrom's backup again this season, but injuries have derailed Backstrom's season.
The Star Tribune speculates that Backstrom, who suffered a concussion on the illegal hit by Kadri, could miss an extended period of time. Kadri was ultimately suspended three-games for the illegal hit.
Harding is expected to start Tuesday at Montreal before getting Wednesday's game at Ottawa off. Darcy Kuemper, who was called up today, will most likely start that game.
WCCO-TV calls Harding's season the best story in the NHL. Harding leads the league in goals-against average and save percentage.