MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - If the Minnesota Wild is going to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs and get past the first round, it’ll be behind the skates of winger Kirill Kaprizov.
Sunday, Kaprizov netted his second career hat trick, and the Wild needed every goal in a 3-2 win in overtime over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Xcel Energy Center. Kaprizov’s third goal, for the natural hat trick, came on a perfect feed across the goalmouth from Calen Addison, and he hit the open net for the game-winner.
Kaprizov has 71 points in 60 games, and leads the Wild with 37 goals. While anyone not named Kaprizov has struggled to find the net, he’s carried the team offensively. Joel Eriksson Ek is the next highest goal scorer at 21, 16 goals behind Kaprizov.
His game-winner Sunday came with less than 20 seconds left in overtime, and hats soon flooded the ice.
"He might be the hardest working superstar ever. This guy goes to the corners like no one else, and he’s not losing a battle ever, so he does everything for us.," Addison said of Kaprizov after Sunday’s win.
Most importantly, the Wild is 6-2-2 in its last 10 games and currently tied for fourth in the West. After losing five straight games and only getting a point in two of those contests, the Wild is 5-1 in its last six games and has gotten at least a point in seven of its last eight games.
Kaprizov became the third player in Wild franchise history to complete a hat trick with an overtime game-winner. But was it his best game so far in his short career?
"It’s hard to tell because he rarely doesn’t have it, right? He plays like that all the time," Wild coach Dean Evason said after the win. "There are some nights that he might turn the puck over a little bit more than he does on different nights, but his drive and his desire and his willingness to compete is always at that level. Obviously had an incredible game."
The Wild closes out February hosting the New York Islanders Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center. They start March with six of their first seven games on the road.