The Lizard King has returned from hibernation in a big way.
In his return from rehab after offseason arm surgery, Mats Zuccarello has made the most of his season debut, scoring 11 points in his eleven games played. Zuccarello’s recent results - two goals and eight points in his last four games - earned special attention from the NHL, as the league honored Zuccarello by naming him the Third Star of the Week.
Zuccarello’s eight-point effort tied the Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane for most in the NHL over the past week, who was named the NHL’s Second Star on the strength of three goals compared to Zuccarello’s two. The Wild forward also had a four-point night for the second time in his career, notching a goal and three assists in the Wild’s 6-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on February 22nd.
Perhaps the biggest point of his four-game span came on the Wild’s overtime winner against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night, where Zuccarello fed Matt Dumba with a back-handed feed past three Kings defenders, setting up Dumba all alone to score the buzzer-beating, game-winning goal.
Zuccarello is also carrying a six-game scoring streak into tonight’s tilt with the Vegas Golden Knights. His award-winning performance has also been paying dividends for his linemates like Wild rookie Kirill Kaprizov, who has been lighting up the ice with amazing plays night after night and is on a five-game scoring streak of his own.
No doubt, Zuccarello’s return has been one of the straws that have stirred the drink during the Wild’s six-game winning streak, and for the Wild to keep their hot play going against one of the top teams in the West division, having Zuccarello maintain his recent mojo will go a long way to getting the job done.