Harding one of three finalists for Masterton Trophy

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding has been named one of three finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, given annually to the NHL player "who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."

Harding, 28, has been battling with multiple sclerosis since he was diagnosed with the illness late last summer. Harding worked to return to the Wild and was on the opening-day roster, before he had to go on injured reserve as he adjusted to a change in medication. Harding returned near the end of the regular season and started all of Minnesota's five playoff games.

Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosy and Boston's Adam McQuaid are the other finalists.

Harding, who signed a three-year contract with the Wild last summer, was 1-1-0 with a 3.24 goals-against average and a .863 save percentage in the regular season, with a shutout in his first start of the season on Jan. 20. He was 1-4 with a 2.94 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in Minnesota's 4-1 first-round playoff loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, starting each game after Niklas Backstrom suffered an injury in pregame warmups prior to Game 1.

Harding missed 33 games this season while on injured reserve.

The trophy is awarded by the Pro Hockey Writers Association in honor of Bill Masterton, a former Minnesota North Stars player who died on Jan. 15, 1968, as a result of head injuries suffered during a game. The winner will be announced during the Stanley Cup finals.

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