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Recap: Wild drop gutsy display against Avs, lose 4-3 in shootout

Kirill and Kaapo kept their team in it, but it just wasn’t enough when it came to the skill competition.

Minnesota Wild v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Where would the Minnesota Wild be without Kirill Kaprizov? I don’t want to think about it.

It was going to be a tight game against the divisional rival Colorado Avalanche no matter what. The amount of skill the home team had in their lineup, and the Wild had to come into their building missing Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, and Joel Eriksson Ek — their three most important players defensively.

But it was Kaprizov’s heroics that not only saved the Wild once, but twice.

After some back and forth, and crawling back into the competition, the Wild’s star unleashed a wicked tight-angle shot to tie the game 2-2 with still more than half of the final frame remaining.

Unfortunately for everyone reading this blog, the Avalanche were able to re-gain the lead with just over three minutes remaining, by scoring a weird goal that needed a lengthy review. Colorado were trying desperately to hold on to the lead as the Wild were continuing their late-game barrage, but just a few moments after they got their third, Kaprizov did it again.

I don’t like to use this word often, but there is no sense in trying to avoid it when talking about the way the Wild can just come up with these surges of offense seemingly out of nowhere to scratch and claw their way to some points — the Wild are extremely clutch.

There is no sense in trying to deny their ability to get these late goals and most of them coming from their star forwards. It’s just a thing that they do! Despite losing most of the shot attempt battle throughout the first two periods, the Wild had 27(!) shot attempts at 5-on-5 in the third period, compared to the Avs’ 15. They just completely unloaded in the final 20 minutes, and it earned them two goals from Kaprizov to earn them a point in the standings.

Kaprizov himself had eight total shot attempts in all situations, with four of them hitting the net, and (obviously) two of them ending up in the back of it.

Other point-getters were: Mats Zuccarello, with an assist on each of Kaprizov’s goal for two points; Matt Boldy earning a wonderful primary assist on Kevin Fiala’s first-period goal, for his fourth point in his first four NHL games; and Matt Dumba earned an assist on the Fiala goal as well.

I might be burying the lede a little bit here, since I’ve already mentioned Fiala scoring without showing everyone, but it’s called just a tease. Because it is absolutely an incredible display of individual skill.

It might be the easiest point Boldy has so far, but at least he made the play in the neutral zone to hand it off to Fiala.

There is something about those two players playing on a line together, and that notion might deserve its own spotlight, but for right now, we just get to enjoy the way Fiala and Boldy can elevate each other.

While he isn’t in these highlights, Kaapo Kahkonen deserves some of the credit for keeping this team within a fighting chance of even earning a single point. The 25-year-old saved 35 of 38 shots on his goal, while also facing 3.47 expected goals and only allowing three. A steady effort from a young goaltender that has proven he can play on his own. Maybe Dean will hand the reins over to him more frequently once Cam Talbot is back to full health.

Unfortunately, despite the Wild’s effort to come back into this Monday matinee, they had to settle for a shootout loss after the overtime period came to nothing. Not fun! The Wild still have a .671 point percentage, which is the second-best in the West (only the Avalanche have a higher one) and is seventh-best in the entire NHL. They’re good folks!

Next up, is the Chicago Blackhawks in a home-and-home on Friday and Saturday.

Burning Questions

Will the Wild’s defense be able to stop the star-powered Colorado Avalanche?

At times, there were some truly amazing displays of individual defensive plays that kept the Avs stars at bay.

And other times...well, the Wild were just getting run over by one of the best offenses in the league that is led by one of the most talented players. Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon both earned two points this afternoon, but at least they didn’t go on an insane scoring spree like they have been able to do in the past.

Overall, you couldn’t really do a whole lot when Colorado had four power play opportunities.

Is Alex Goligoski ready to play at 100% in his return?

As the game went on, Goligoski appeared way more comfortable to skate up the ice with possession. There might have been some shedding of rust necessary, but the veteran defender was able to keep up with it and participate in the offensive surge in the final frame.

For his one game sample, the Wild did get outshot by a total of 11-12 when Goligoski was on the ice at 5-on-5, but it’s not such a drastic display that we’re calling on Guerin to make a trade or anything. He did what he is known to do, and that’s all you can really ask of him right now.

Will Matt Boldy score again today?

Unfortunately, no, but he did earn a point. He also had five shot attempts, one shot on goal, and tied for the third-highest individual expected goals on the Wild tonight. Boldy is the real deal, and we’re just happy that we get to watch him actually play where he belongs.

It might not have to be said with four points in his first four games, but Boldy will never see the AHL ever again.