Just keep chugging along Minnesota Wild. Let Kirill Kaprizov and the reunited GREEF line fuel that march.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but it was a slow start for the Wild. Outshot 13-11 in the first by the basement-dwelling Arizona Coyotes, who possess an anemic offense — averaging a league-worst 1.38 goals per game — and a porous defense that is fifth in the league for GA/GP with 3.48. Sometimes it’s tough for a team to get up for a game against the most woeful squad in the league, and it sure looked that way in the first 20 minutes.
Clayton Keller and Phil Kessel worked their magic through the neutral zone and three sleepy defenders to open the scoring five minutes into the first.
Please, someone get these guys off this team.
At least Joel Eriksson Ek was awake enough to answer quickly for the Wild and keep it tied.
At the end of the first, the Wild were tied 1-1 with a 22% xGF share (via NaturalStatTrick.com), and they were lucky to have that at all. If there was any bright spot to the first period, it’s that even though they were being outplayed, Kaapo Kähkönen kept them in it. So far, he’s had a pretty mediocre season — a 3-1-1 record with .885 Sv%/3.04 GAA — so it felt good to see him tracking the puck and controlling rebounds well. By the end of the night, he stopped 29/31 and was one of the Three Stars of the Game.
I’m not sure what Dean Evason said to the team in the dressing room, but I’m sure it wasn’t family-friendly. It worked.
In the second frame, the Wild came out looking like one of the league’s best teams prepared to trample one of the league’s worst. The plan seemed pretty simple: control the puck, get traffic in front and put pucks on the net. It paid dividends for the rest of the game, starting with Kirill’s seventh goal of the year;
kaprizov takes a wild shot from the point and it gets past wedgewood. could be off a hartman tip, but it’s kirill’s for now. 2-1 good guys pic.twitter.com/wwVklUGtyd— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) December 1, 2021
That’s all well and good for Kirill — who now has a laughable four goals and 14 points in his last seven games — but maybe it’s time someone else pitched in.
How about Jordan Greenway for his first goal of the year?
off the point shot, the puck hits greenway (and maybe rask) and finds its way to the net.— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) December 1, 2021
3-1 wild on greenways first of the year! pic.twitter.com/5uZacx1rsK
For most of the season, Greenway has been bad. Very bad. So it’s nice to see him heat up and find his place, playing a pivotal role in this current winning streak and contribute offensively tonight with a goal and two assists, matching his career-high in a single game.
Also keeping it going was Ryan Hartman, who has been on fire of late and netted two assists last night, including winning the faceoff for a goal off the set play for Jonas Brodin with a few seconds left in the second.
traffic in front and the wild score! brodin scores off the set play from the faceoff with 3 seconds left!— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) December 1, 2021
You have to love it when a plan comes together.
For the third, the plan was to shut it down. All the way down. After a point shot from Anton Stralman found its way through Kähkönen, it looked like the Coyotes might be back in it. Instead, Marcus Foligno iced it with 13 minutes to go in third after he caught a backboard rebound for the alley-oop.
point shot off the backboards and foligno scores!!!! pic.twitter.com/iGoX66f2Cy— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) December 1, 2021
Clamp it down, shut the barn door and head home for the night.
It was a rough start to the game. Maybe being asleep at the wheel and being able to “turn it on” to pull out a win is the mark of a great team though.