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  • Recap: Wild win sloppy, gutsy effort in Pittsburgh with late-game heroics


    A flurry of words could be used to describe the Minnesota Wild's 5-4 shootout win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

    Sloppy? Ugly? Deficient in smart hockey plays?

    Beautiful? Heroic? (Insert expletive) Awesome?

    The game brought a flurry of emotions, and it started early as Kirill Kaprizov notched his second goal of the year midway through the first period. While it wasn't a highlight reel Kaprizov goal, it's one that gave Minnesota a head start.

    The goal also put Kaprizov in the Wild record books, becoming the fastest player to 60 points in team history (65 games beats Gaborik at 93 games). 

    It got ugly for a bit after that. 

    Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen made his presence felt, tying the game at one with less than four minutes left in the first period. It was the first of three tallies for Kapanen, who hadn't scored prior to Saturday.

    A familiar face played a big part in Pittsburgh's strong start, as current Penguins forward and former Wild winger Jason Zucker played a role in the host's first two goals to finish the night with a pair of assists. His play got the Pens off to a strong start, but it wasn't enough.

    Facing a 4-2 lead late in the third, Wild coach Dean Evason pulled Cam Talbot with the hopes of drawing even. The extra-man provided Jared Spurgeon with the opportunity to bring the Wild within one with three minutes and change left in the game,

    Ryan Hartman brought late pain for Penguins fans already making their way to the parking lot, scoring the tying goal with a second and change remaining in the game. Hartman now leads the Wild (!!!) with five goals in ten games.

    The teams traded breakaway chances in overtime before Kaprizov kept the shootout going with his first career shootout goal in the third round. Former Pen Nick Bjugstad scored on Minnesota's next shot, sending the Wild to a two-point night and victory that seemed highly unlikely as late as five minutes left in regulation.

    Burning Questions

    Back at full strength, can the Wild defense shut down a shorthanded Penguins squad?

    The defense struggled in this game. Luckily for the Wild, Talbot did not.

    Talbot faced a barrage of shots in the game, stopping 35 of 39. Though the final stats won't put him in the .900 save percentage, Talbot was a big piece of this win.

    In his return to the lineup, Alex Goligoski looked a bit shaky, one that included an own goal deflected off his stick past Talbot.

    As we pointed out in our preview, the Wild have continued to struggle on defense a bit—Saturday became the fourth-straight game in which Minnesota gave up four goals.

    There was one scene on defense that had no impact on the final score involving Matt Dumba. He didn't get a penalty here, but the memes and results of the play will be incredible.


    Can Dolla Bill Kirill continue to pay dividends?

    You're damn right he did. Kaprizov scored the opening goal, assisted on Spurgeon's goal to bring Minnesota within one and scored his first career shootout goal to keep the game going so Bjugstad could win it.

    For those who want to appreciate Kaprizov along with the other Wild shootout goals—you're welcome:

    I'm guessing that's a performance most people can live with, especially those who bet their Dolla Bills (Sorry, I had to) on a Wild win.

    The Wild will attempt to bring the energy into Sunday as the team preps for a home matchup with the league power New York Islanders. The Wild won't be the only tired team, as New York beat Winnipeg 2-0 on Saturday.

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