It’s getting harder and harder for the Wild to justify taking rookie goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen out of the crease. Like nearly impossible.
As solid as starter Cam Talbot has been this season, Kahkonen has been hands down the better option, and that trend continued on Monday night at Xcel Energy Center.
After being overshadowed by the offense so many times this season, Kahkonen finally got his moment as the Wild eeked out a 2-0 win over the Vegas Golden Knights.
He looked cool, calm, and collected between the pipes, recording 26 saves to earn the first shutout of his career. He’s also won seven straight games and continues to exceed expectations on a nightly basis.
Even before the puck dropped the Wild got a boost as the Golden Knights were without captain Mark Stone and prized free agent signing Alex Pietrangelo. Both players were instramental in the Golden Knights sweeping the Wild last week as Stone stole the show with a remarkable five-assist effort in a one game and Pietrangelo was an absolute force on the blue line.
Needless to say the Wild were happy to avoid both players on this particular night.
After a back-and-forth start to the game, Kevin Fiala got loose on an odd-man rush midway through the first period, then wired a wrist shot past goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to make it 1-0.
While the Golden Knights pushed back in the second period, firing 14 shots on goal in total, Kahkonen was a brick wall in the between the pipes.
That solid play continued into the third period where Kahkonen made a handful of big saves down the stretch before Jonas Brodin was awarded a goal to finalize the score at 2-0.