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Recap: Wild score early and never look back, earns 5-1 win over Capitals

The game was decided in the first couple of minutes.

Minnesota Wild v Washington Capitals Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Minnesota Wild did not even wait for 60 seconds to pass to unleash their first shot on goal and their first goal of the game against the Washington Capitals. In the second half of a back-to-back that started their first road trip since early March, there was a feeling of anticipation to try and stay calm about any outcome, considering how thick and fast the games have come.

Well, Joel Eriksson Ek does not care about anything called “fatigue” or “being tired.” The center opened the scoring after just 36 seconds.

Oh, you thought that the Wild would just take the early goal and take their foot off the proverbial gas pedal? Hell no! Tyson Jost scored his first goal in a Wild sweater 61 seconds after Eriksson Ek’s tally and doubles Minnesota’s lead.

For the remainder of the first period, it was a fairly even battle that saw the Capitals edge closer and closer to getting a more sizeable advantage in shots on goal and the general play. And then they just decided to unleash hell upon the Wild defense after the first intermission. In the first 10 minutes of the middle frame, the Capitals earned a plus-16 advantage in shot attempts at 5-on-5 and really looked like they would eventually convert.

But fortunately, Cam Talbot stood on his head enough to keep the zero on the score board and push the skaters in front of him to score a game-defining third goal, as Eriksson Ek got his second goal of the game and 21st of the season.

With a 3-0 lead heading into the third period but the opposition holding the advantage in basically every other category, the Wild appeared to be determined to edge out that number and break more even after 20 more minutes. Marcus Foligno, a la Eriksson Ek, scored just 30 seconds into the third period to really put a finishing stamp on things.

With Foligno and Eriksson Ek hitting the 20-goal mark tonight, the Wild become just the third NHL team this season to have six players to do so. Kaprizov (39), Hartman (27), Fiala (23), and Zuccarello (20), are your other Minnesotans that earned the achievement. Only the Florida Panthers and St. Louis Blues have that number of scoring milestones.

Washington did end up getting on the board with Garnet Hathaway scoring a messy goal off of a faceoff, but then Nicolas Deslauriers of all forwards netted the empty-net goal to finish with a 5-1 win and two points. Not a bad road win at all.

Cam Talbot saved 25 of 26 shots he faced, and Jordan Greenway(!) earned three assists, tying Eriksson Ek for the team lead in scoring tonight.

With these two points, the Wild have created a five-point gap over the Blues and are much more comfortable in the second spot of the Central Division. With just 14 games remaining, it’s easy to predict that that is where they will finish, since the Colorado Avalanche are 15 whole damn points above them.

Next up, the Wild are heading back west to face the Nashville Predators on Tuesday before finishing the road trip against the Blues on the following Thursday. Two games that could really define the standings and cement the positions even further.

Burning Questions

Who will get more points tonight out of Ovechkin and Kaprizov?

In a somewhat surprising turn of events, Kaprizov was held without a point tonight in Washington, and on the other side of the ice, Ovechkin earned an assist on the Caps’ only goal of the game. So I guess the veteran gets the advantage in this one.

Can the Wild keep their current powerplay goal streak alive?

The Wild didn’t manage to score on the power play, so their streak of five consecutive games with a man-advantage goal is ended, but who needs that when one of the best two-way lines in hockey is scoring goals? The Wild should strike enough fear into anyone at 5-on-5, so getting goals on a power play was a cherry on top.