For the second straight game, the Wild were firmly on their heels against the rival Colorado Avalanche. They couldn’t get anything going offensively, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they couldn’t stop a nosebleed defensively.
Never mind that the Wild still held a lead midway through Wednesday’s game Xcel Energy Center. It felt like only a matter of time before superstar Nathan MacKinnon helped his Avalanche seize control.
That’s exactly how the rest of the game would’ve played out in a past life: the Wild surrender the lead, the Avalanche run away with the win.
Not anymore. Not with superstar Kirill Kaprizov in the fold, and yes, it’s fair to start using the word superstar.
With his team in desperate need of a spark, Dolla Bill Kirill came through once again, netting a separation goal to lead the Wild to a blowout 8-3 win.
It was a picturesque scene at the X. You had Kaprizov unleashing a rocket from the slot on bended knee. You had a sold-out crowd of 3,000 fans going berserk. You had dozens of No. 97 jerseys in the stands watching their new favorite player in person.
That goal from Kaprizov opened the floodgates, and the Wild poured it on the rest of the way. It also opened the door for Kevin Fiala to net the first hat trick of his career. Heck, it was such a good night for the Wild that Luke Johnson even scored the first goal of his career.
It was a statement win from the Wild after getting worked by the Avalanche for much of the past month. Though nobody would say it in the days leading up to Wednesday’s game, the Wild definitely had something to prove on this particular night.
It was a fast start from the Wild as they took a commanding lead in the first period thanks to goals from Kaprizov, Johnson, and Fiala.
That lead evaporated in the second period as the Wild started to unravel. It started with a goal from MacKinnon a mere 34 seconds into the frame, and while the Wild responded with a goal from Ryan Hartman, the Avalanche answered with goals from Andre Burakovsky and Mikko Rantanen.
Just like that, the Wild watched a three-goal advantage turn into a one-goal lead with the Avalanche on the verge of flipping the script.
That’s why the goal from Kaprizov was so important. It allowed the Wild to take a breath and play freely down the stretch.
With some breathing room, the Wild took over in the third period, getting a goal from Joel Eriksson Ek, then a pair of goals from Fiala as he completed his hat trick.