Hey Wild fans, although the snow is starting to pile up and the temps are getting colder, your Minnesota Wild are heating up. Following last night’s 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators, the Wild have a five-game win streak. The guys in green are showing the swagger and confidence that they seemed to have so often last season. This is the Wild’s longest winning streak since last April. Ryan Hartman returned to the lineup for the Wild after missing 21 games with an injury. So while the temps drop, things are looking up for the Wild.
For the first two periods of the game, it looked as though the Wild were going to run away with the game, up 3-0 going into the final frame. It was perhaps the Wild’s most dominating two periods of the season. They were out-hustling and out-checking the Senators for every puck.
First Wild goal on the board was scored by who else, Kirill Kaprizov (19), with assists by Mats Zuccarello (22) and Sam Steel (6). The first-line for the Wild have been on fire lately. With Kaprizov’s goal and two assists – one to his BFF, Zuccarello, and a nifty one to captain Jared Spurgeon, Kaprizov scored his 200th NHL point in just 167 games. Only Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin have done it faster since the 2000-01 season. Kaprizov also became the fifth-fastest left winger in NHL history to reach 200 points. Former Wild star, Marion Gaborik was the previous Wild record-holder to reach 200 points in 290 games.
Zuccarello, Steel and Kaprizov were also responsible for putting the Wild’s second goal on the board later in the first when Zuccarello put in a feed from Steel off of a rebound from a Kaprizov shot. Spurgeon then put the Wild up 3-0 when he took a feed from Kaprizov, deked out Senators goalie, Anton Forsberg and flipped a nice, little backhander into the net.
The Senators got goals in the third period from Matt Kastelic and Claude Giroux before Wild center, Fredrick Gaudreau put the game away with an empty-net goal in the game’s final minute. Wild goalie, Filip Gustavsson made 26 saves, some of them in spectacular fashion, in 28 shots faced. It was Gus’ first contest against his former team after being traded from the Senators for former Wild tendy, Cam Talbot, who got a nice ovation from the sellout Wild crowd in attendance.
When I asked Wild Head Coach, Dean Evason, in the post-game press conference if he needs to push the team to fight complacency in upcoming games when they’re on a hot streak such as this, or if that comes from the team itself, Evason replied, “It comes from within. Our group is very good about that, very even, very down-to-earth. We won’t get ahead of ourselves for sure because of the character that we have in there.”
The Senators had a four-game winning streak coming in to St. Paul, but they never really showed any spark until late in the 3rd period, before that spark was extinguished by a pesky, relentless Wild defense.
Santa and the Wild will now head to the West Coast to face the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night (9:00 PM CST) and the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night (9:30 PM CST).
More to come on Wild news later this week. Until then stay warm and Go Wild!!!!