Wild look legitimate, hold off big late push from Golden Knights
Yes, Kirill Kaprizov has emerged, and prompted Wild fans and followers to churn out ... interesting nicknames. He’s the real deal, but a rising Wild team is about more than that. We saw a mix of Kaprizov’s brilliance and more-than-just-Kaprizov impressiveness as the Wild beat the Golden Knights 4-3 on Wednesday.
Now, the dangerousness of the Vegas Golden Knights? That came through in the Golden Knights nearly storming back from a 4-1 third period deficit to tie this one up.
After Marc-Andre Fleury got the hook, Vegas almost pulled off an improbable comeback. Minnesota held on, though, and won during regulation. A Dylan Coghlan hat trick went to waste on Wednesday, at least if you only look at the standings.
Kaprizov, but also Eriksson Ek
Again, Kaprizov showed that he’s a difference-maker once more on Wednesday. He broke a 1-1 tie that persisted from about two minutes into the first period to a bit more than a minute into the third.
As domineering as the Wild can be at even-strength, they’ll need to improve on the power play to beat contenders like the Golden Knights. So seeing Kaprizov score a big goal that way is a big lift.
But Kaprizov isn’t the only promising element of the Wild, who improved to 15-8-1 (31 points in 24 games) by beating the Golden Knights (16-6-1, 33 points in 23 games).
With two goals on Wednesday, Joel Eriksson Ek now has 10 tallies this season. That already represents a career-high for Ek, whose previous peak was eight goals.
Ultimately, the points might come and go for Joel Eriksson Ek. Many “fancy stats” folks are calling for him to be a No. 1 center for the Wild because of his two-way play.
┏┓— EvolvingWild (@EvolvingWild) February 17, 2021
┃┃╱╲ In this
Eriksson Ek is a 1st line center
But like with many players, you get more attention when you produce points. Ek is already breaking out this season, leaving “bust” talk in the dust.
Oh, and for more Kirill Kaprizov content, check out some interesting insight about his next contract, via Bob McKenzie:
Kahkonen, Wild hold off Golden Knights -- until things turn
Through most of Wednesday’s Wild - Golden Knights game, Minnesota’s defense locked things up, and Kaapo Kahkonen cleaned up the rest.
Over the first two periods, the Wild limited the Golden Knights to 15 shots on goal, and Dylan Coghlan’s first career NHL goal. It looked like the third would be a similar bottled-up 20 minutes ... until it was not.
Even so, Kahkonen is now on an eight-game winning streak, and most nights teams haven’t really been able to get to him very often.
Meet Dylan Coghlan
But Dylan Coghlan did get to him.
The 23-year-old came into Wednesday with zero goals and one assist in 11 career NHL games. Coghlan generated a hat trick on Wednesday night. Along with an early first period goal, Coghlan powered a stunning comeback for Vegas. He scored two goals about four minutes apart to give his team a chance to tie things up.
Now, it’s worth noting that Coghlan might have some potential to be a semi-regular threat from the point, even if he’s unlikely to score too many hat tricks. Coghlan scored 11 and 15 goals in the AHL during the past two seasons, and also hit double digits during his two seasons before that in the WHL.
Not a bad weapon to have in your back pocket if, say, Alex Pietrangelo could miss some time.
Anyway, despite some near-chances, the Wild held off the Golden Knights. Maybe we’ve witnessed the beginning of an interesting rivalry?