LOS ANGELES (AP) — Minnesota Wild rookie Kirill Kaprizov showed how good he could on opening night against the Los Angeles Kings and hasn’t slowed down.
Three months later, with the Kings battling to keep their playoff hopes alive, the electric Russian forward still got the best of them.READ MORE: Declining To Address Rosas Firing, Wolves And Lynx Owners Talk Teams' Futures
Kaprizov had two goals and the Wild beat the Kings 4-2 Friday night for their sixth straight win.
“I know I’m biased, but he’s putting together a Calder season,” Wild forward Nick Bonino said. “I think he’s got the most goals and points, and he’s obviously a threat every time he’s on the ice. His goals are pretty amazing. That first goal, pretty fun to watch.”
Joel Eriksson Ek and Nico Strum also scored as the Wild improved to 9-2-1 in their past 12 games. Cam Talbot made 40 saves.
Trevor Moore and Anze Kopitar scored for the Kings, who have gone 26 games without consecutive wins but are still five points behind Arizona for the final playoff spot in the West Division. Cal Petersen made 20 saves.
“It’s too bad we couldn’t bury a couple more,” Kings center Gabriel Vilardi said. “I thought we had some really good chances and good looks out there. Yeah, it’s just one game. We got to keep going. We play tomorrow (against Arizona), big game.”
Strum scored into an open goal to make it 3-1 at 11:19 of the third after Nick Bonino’s wraparound shot went through the crease.
Kopitar’s wraparound goal cut it to 3-2 nearly 4 minutes later.
The Kings had chances to tie in the closing minutes after Jonas Brodin put the puck over the glass for delay of game, but Eriksson Ek got an empty-netter at 19:50.
“It was probably the best night of attacking we’ve had in a long time,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “We shot the puck, we got it back, created a lot in and around the net, scrambles, just didn’t find a way to either keep one out of our net or get the extra one. I don’t have a lot of complaints about our play tonight.”
Kaprizov’s rookie season started with three points and scoring the winning goal in overtime against the Kings in his NHL debut on Jan. 14, and the favorite for the Calder Trophy continued to ravage them. He left defenseman Mikey Anderson practically flat-footed before cutting in on goal and sneaking a shot under Petersen’s arm to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead 7:46 into the game.
“He’s just so creative,” Wild coach Dean Evason said. “You know, the way that he gains speed literally without moving his legs is pretty special, so he can do some special things and we’ve seen them all this year, and I look forward to seeing a lot more.”
It was Kaprizov’s 20th goal, the first rookie in franchise history to reach the mark. He is also the first Wild rookie to score in four consecutive games.
But the Kings tied it up 1-all with less than a second remaining in the period on Moore’s eighth goal when he buried a one-timer outside the crease.READ MORE: 49ers Leave Too Much Time After Comeback, Rodgers Leads Packers To 30-28 Win
Kaprizov put the Wild back in front 2-1 with a power-play goal at 6:41 of the second. It was his seventh power-play goal, claiming another Wild rookie record, and third multi-goal game.
“We’re getting scoring from everyone, from the power play,” Bonino said. “We’re killing penalties. Goaltending is great, obviously. So it’s been a good six games here.”
DOMINATING THE KINGS
Kaprizov had six goals and three assists in the eight-game season series against Los Angeles. Minnesota won each of the five games in which Kaprizov scored en route to a 6-2-0 record.
“He’s going to be, at least in my opinion, the rookie of the year for a good reason,” McLellan said. “Minnesota’s lucky to have him, we’re lucky to have him as a league, and he’s a heck of a player.”
IN A GROOVE
Minnesota’s special teams made the difference, going 1 for 2 on the power play and keeping Los Angeles scoreless in two chances. The Wild have the NHL’s best power play in April, leading the league in goals (16) and conversion percentage (43.2).
SHAKE IT OFF
Despite winning four of their past 13 games, the Kings have actually made up ground in the playoff race heading into their critical showdown against the Coyotes on Saturday.
“We didn’t climb tonight, but we didn’t fall, that’s a good thing, so we get another chance tomorrow,” McLellan said. “We put the same type of effort in and the same type of game and we’ll win our share.”
Wild: At San Jose on Saturday.
Kings: Host Arizona on Saturday.MORE NEWS: Cousins, Vikings Get Season's 1st Victory With Defeat Of Seahawks
(© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)