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Henrik Karlsson -- Crawford's backup -- ready if needed

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Henrik Karlsson In Action.jpgWhen MInnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom suffered an injury during pre-game warmups and couldn't play Tuesday night, Wild fans at least knew who Josh Harding was. But if Corey Crawford suffered a similar malady prior to Game 2 tonight, even longtime Blackhawks fans would have to google Henrik Karlsson.

With Ray Emery still recovering from a groin injury, Karlsson remains the Blackhawks' Plan B. The 29-year-old Swede has played in 26 NHL games -- all of them as a backup to Miikka Kiprusoff of the Calgary Flames, with a 5-9-8 record. He was acquired from the Flames on Feb. 21 and played 18 games with the minor-league Rockford Ice Hogs, where he was 11-5-0.

Backstrom's injury and Harding's sudden start put the backup goaltender into focus. That Crawford has been shaken up on occasion recently also might make Hawks fans a little nervous with Emery injured.

''I just try to be ready,'' Karlsson said. ''I've been a backup behind Kiprusoff a couple of years, so I've been thrown in there in games. Hopefully nothing happens. But if something happens, I'll be ready to step in. I feel good.''

The 6-6, 209-pound Karlsson said he was impressed with Harding's performance on short notice in Game 1. He stopped 35 of 37 shots in a 2-1 overtime loss on Tuesday night.

''He played well. He's a good goalie,'' Karlsson said. ''I think he looked a little tense in the beginning. But after a couple of saves he looked real comfortable and played real well. He managed to relax and play his game and that's impressive.''

Karlsson has played in eight playoff games in his professional career -- none since 2005 -- allowing 22 goals.

''Obviously, it's a little bit tougher to just get thrown in there in the second period or first period ... it's part of the game,'' Karlsson said. ''You have to be ready. No excuses. If it happens, I have to be ready and I will.''

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Mark Lazerus was honored nationally by the Associated Press Sports Editors for three straight years at the Post-Tribune, was named one of the top three columnists in Indiana for three straight years and has won more than 20 statewide writing awards. He has covered Notre Dame for Sun-Times Media, and now covers the Blackhawks.

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