With steam rising from his soaking wet undershirt, Josh Harding walked in front of a Wild backdrop at Johnny’s Ice House, the Chicago Blackhawks’ practice facility, and said, “I need an oxygen tank.”

Harding was the Wild’s first-half MVP, but the goalie hasn’t played since Dec. 31 because of complications with multiple sclerosis. Donning his white pads, righthanded trapper and green mask featuring a painted toque, Harding rejoined the Wild for his first practice since Jan. 19.

“With how [good] I’m feeling, you’ve got to get some shots,” said Harding, who has skated at Braemar Arena in Edina with friends. “I haven’t [taken] in this quality of shots. Definitely a different pace out here.”

Harding looked surprisingly good. His appearance Wednesday was a surprise even to teammates, although maybe it shouldn’t have been considering the never-ending goalie carousel of the Wild.

Harding returned on the same day John Curry arrived to back up Ilya Bryzgalov because second-half sensation Darcy Kuemper is sidelined by of an upper-body injury. Remember, Niklas Backstrom is finished for the season following his second abdominal surgery in less than a year.

During Thursday’s game against the Blackhawks, Curry will be the seventh goaltender to dress for the Wild this season and second in two games to wear the same uniform number (emergency goalie Rob Laurie, signed from his day job to a pro tryout Monday, wore No. 33 in Los Angeles).

“There’s no question, it’s been a challenge all year long,” coach Mike Yeo said.

Harding initially missed the Wild’s four-game road trip to Pittsburgh, New York, Philadelphia and Winnipeg in December to have an adjustment to his MS treatment. He returned to play two games Dec. 29 and Dec. 31, but as it turned out, he wasn’t quite right, lost them both and was sidelined again. He tried to return to practice later in January before being sidelined for the past 2 ½ months.