Knyzhov's 'surreal' first NHL goal seals Sharks' sweep of Wild

Nikolai Knyzhov celebrates goal

It took 38 career games, but Sharks defenseman Nikolai Knyzhov finally has his first NHL goal.

And the first-career marker for the 23-year-old Russian sealed the Sharks' 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday, giving San Jose the two-game sweep at SAP Center.

At 10:58 in the third period, Erik Karlsson found Knyzhov, who beat Wild goalie Kaapo Kahkonen glove side.

After the Sharks' win, Knyzhov was asked if the goal felt better than he expected.

"Honestly, I'll tell you, it felt even better," Knyzhov told reporters on a video conference call. "It didn't feel like what I was expecting and that was surreal."

Knyzhov, who entered Wednesday's game with four career assists in 37 games over the last two seasons, has impressed coach Bob Boughner.

"We're putting him in big situations and he's responding," Boughner told reporters. "We saw a little of him last year and in training camp and you can't help by notice how good a beat he has and he's a physical player. He's a young kid, big. He's got all the tools you need to play for a long time in this league. Give him credit. Great training camp and he's improved every day since and he's got some confidence now, playing some big minutes. Great find for our organization. I think he's going to be a good defenseman in this league for a long time."

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Knyzhov showed up to his postgame press conference wearing a wig, and he joked with reporters that teammate Tomas Hertl made him wear it.


Knyzhov has earned the respect of his coach and teammates, and is sure to score a lot more goals during his NHL career.