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Recap: Wild win sloppy game in overtime over Ducks

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Kirill Kaprizov shows affinity for heroics with OT GWG

Anaheim Ducks v Minnesota Wild Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

It was already written that Kirill Kaprizov was going to score that overtime goal.

The 24-year old budding superstar has a knack for big-time goals, and he all but locked up the Calder Trophy for the NHL’s best rookie with his game-winner tonight. It was a rough game that ended on a much-needed high.

The Minnesota Wild did not start their final matchup against the Anaheim Ducks well. Of the first 10 shots on net, the Ducks had eight of them. The 11th shot? Let Max Comtois show you.

From here on in though, the Wild controlled the flow of the game. 55 seconds late Victor Rask finished a wonderful passing sequence from Mats Zuccarello and Kirill Kaprizov with the only lucky bounce the Wild would see all game.

The rest of the first was one that the Wild could be proud of. Kaprizov showed off his ability to create plays and find space in the open areas of the ice. The Jordan Greenway - Joel Eriksson Ek - Foligno line continued to show why they are one of the best lines in the league. Kaapo Kähkönen was there when the Wild needed to be, which is about all you can ask from your netminder, rookie or not.

Speaking of rookies, Nico Sturm tallied the 10th goal of his freshman campaign on a slick feed from Nick Bonino, giving the Wild the 2-1 lead with about a minute and a half to go in the first period;

With Nick Bjugstad healthy, his line with Sturm and Bonino was fantastic tonight. In just under nine minutes of 5v5 ice time, the trio were above water with a 55 xGF% according to Natural Stat Trick, while drawing in against the Ducks’ “second line” of Adam Henrique, Derek Grant and Alexander Volkov. Not the most dynamic of lines, but anytime your fourth line — a designation that almost feels insulting — can outplay its opponents is a plus.

The pace of the game petered off in the second, as the both the Wild and the Ducks couldn't get much sustained pressure going. Most of the Ducks chances came off of the sloppy neutral zone play of the Wild, illustrated by the five giveaways they had in the second period alone.

I’m not sure what happened after the first, but things were just not breaking the Wild’s way after the first 20 minutes. The blown tire from Victor Rask really characterized what it felt to watch the team until the end of regulation.

There are two names that the Wild can rely on; Kirill Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek. Kirill gets the attention, but JEEk is there when they need him too;

The fifth-year center scored his 19th of the season and later notched his 30th point. His line was crushing skulls and taking names as it so often does, cruising with an ungodly 75 xGF% and outshot their opponents 7-3. He had himself a game, even with the miss of the season, where the laws of the universe were seemingly broken to keep this puck out;

A goal from Derek Grant tied the game at three, and the Wild’s inevitable march to extra time continued.

They say that you should “act like you’ve been there before” and Kirill and the Wild have been. Their fourth overtime in five games. That’s why it only took Kirill 17 seconds to end it.

Burning Answers

Can the Wild keep up the energy or will they play down to their opponents level?

The score doesn't reflect it, but the Wild should have run away with this one. Outside of the first few minutes, the good guys crushed the basement-dwelling Ducks. They outshot them 36-25, including 24-15 in the final two periods. They held a 68 xGF% at evens (from NaturalStatTrick.com) and limited the Ducks to only six high-danger chances at 5v5.

Outside of some sloppy neutral zone play, they didn’t do much wrong. The score could easily have been 6-3 and no one would have batted an eye. Sometimes things just don’t break your way.

Good teams win.

Can Kahkonen keep up his resurgance?

All three of the goals can be solely placed on the shoulders of his teammates. Kähkönen was steady, and even downright great at times. He faced far too many breakaways, including shorthanded opportunities.

The most you can ask of your goalie is to stop the pucks they should, and Kähkönen did that tonight and more. He didn’t steal the show and no one is going to be celebrating stopping 23 out of 25 shots, but the defensive mistakes that were made in front of him didn’t make it easy.

Can the Wild get their red-hot power play back in action?

Three opportunities and three shots on goal. A night to forget on the man advantage. This is even without mentioning the two shorthanded breakaways.

There have been much worse nights for the Wild PP, but if there are a few things Dean Evason is going to rip this team for from tonight’s game, it’s the neutral zone giveaways, the mistakes in front of their own net and the horrific powerplay.

Take the two points and move on.