The Minnesota Wild have cemented themselves as a team that can make substantial noise in the postseason. It might be only 24 games into their season—not even halfway—but with a 15-8-1 record after Wednesday’s 4-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights, it just feels different.
It might have taken some desperation as the Wild tried to survive a frantic finish due to a two-goal collapse deep into the final frame, but they held on to earn the two points.
Everything just sort of clicked the right way. Almost immediately, Joel Eriksson Ek was able to earn his ninth goal of the season just 19 seconds after the first puck drop.
that didn’t take long, Eriksson Ek takes advantage of the turnover and gets the lead early!— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) March 11, 2021
1-0 wild! pic.twitter.com/84F7Llq8A4
Just going unnoticed by the faceoff dot, the two-way center is able to rip one past Marc-Andre Fleury before NBCSN is done displaying the Vegas forward lines on the score bug.
Unfortunately for us, the Golden Knights were able to answer about 90 seconds later as rookie defenseman Dylan Coghlan scored an equalizing goal.
After a second period of back-and-forth play that ended with some immense pressure coming from Vegas, the Wild were able to overcome with three goals in the first eight minutes of the third period.
First, just over a minute into the period, Kirill Kaprizov got on the scoresheet and nudged the Wild’s powerplay conversion rate closer to not being historically terrible.
KAPRIZOV PP GOAL pic.twitter.com/R2asfCuuj3— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) March 11, 2021
Clearly inspired by Kaprizov’s backhand ability, Eriksson Ek added his second goal of the game and 10th of the season to make it a much more comfortable lead.
SELKE FAVORITE JOEL ERIKSSON EK— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) March 11, 2021
3-1 GOOD GUYS pic.twitter.com/np2PCMhbw9
It might not have been the prettiest goal we have ever seen, but it got the job done and proved to be necessary for the Wild’s ability to earn the two points.
To add some insult to injury, Nico Sturm and Carson Soucy linked up to score the most gorgeous goal of the night off the rush.
carson soucy scores off a feed from sturm!— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) March 11, 2021
A perfect cross-ice pass from the wing and a one-time slapper off the stick of Soucy wound up in the back of the net to give Minnesota the three-goal lead.
Unfortunately, that led to some late game theatrics led by the Vegas goalscorer Coghlan. He’s a defenseman, and he scored a hat trick. I’m serious.
In the final six minutes of the game, Coghlan was able to notch two goals and put the Golden Knights on his back; inching closer to an equalizer that would send the game to the extra period.
Fortunately, the clock ran out before he could score a fourth goal and the Wild squeaked through the Vegas onslaught and got their 15th win of the season. Sitting pretty with a 7-2-1 record in their last 10 games and just two points behind Vegas for the division lead.
find someone to lift you up in life like foligno does for zucc pic.twitter.com/mt9KBNKUBB— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) March 11, 2021
Can Kaprizov turn his silky moves into impact on the scoresheet?
With the third period goal that kickstarted the run of tallies that put the Wild up 4-1 halfway through the final 20 minutes, Kaprizov was certainly able to translate the moves that we have grown accustomed to, to some numbers.
It might not always happen every single game, but now with 20 points through 24 games, it happens often enough to get noticed.
Can Kahkonen make it a great eight?
Hell yeah he did. Kaapo Kahkonen continued his run of success through this win over the Golden Knights. He has now been in between the pipes for eight consecutive wins, the most of any rookie goaltender in Minnesota.
Kaapo Kahkonen extends his franchise best win streak by a #mnwild rookie goal to eight games. He owns a 1.62 GAA, a .940 SV% and one shutout in the last eight games. https://t.co/7DXxVf7bNZ— Minnesota Wild PR (@mnwildPR) March 11, 2021
Speaking of calm and poised, can the Wild avoid penalties by keeping sloppy play and frustration at bay?
Each team was awarded just two powerplays each for the entire games, and that seems low for a standard Wild game this season.
It’s not difficult to imagine a more conservative and less aggressive team in the future, especially with the points becoming more valuable in the playoff race. So seeing just two minor penalties against Minnesota is a welcome number that will hopefully continue.
Next up, is the Arizona Coyotes on Friday night. Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m.