Forgive the Minnesota Wild if they looked a little lackadaisical on Friday night at the Xcel Energy Center.
After a couple of playoff-like games against the Vegas Golden Knights earlier this week, a hangover against the lowly Anaheim Ducks was always on the table.
That said, there’s a reason the Wild are playoff-bound, and the Ducks are in a race for the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. Oh, and there’s a reason rookie superstar Kirill Kaprizov is going to win the Calder Trophy.
After a ho-hum game, at least by his lofty standards, Dolla Bill Kirill netted the game-winner 17 seconds into overtime to lift the Wild to a 4-3 win over the Ducks. Victor Rask, Nico Sturm, and Victor Rask scored the other goals and Kaapo Kahkonen finished with 22 saves in the win.
There was drama before the game even started as coach Dean Evason decided to make veteran Zach Parise a healthy scratch for the second time this season.
Perhaps coincidentally, the Wild were off their game from the initial drop of the puck, allowing the Ducks to take control for a good chunk of the first period. That constant pressure eventually resulted in Max Comtois getting loose on a breakaway to put the Ducks up 1-0.
That seemed to light a fire under the Wild and they responded less than a minute later with a goal from Victor Rask to tie the game at 1-1. Kirill Kaprizov tallied his 22nd assist on the play to break Filip Kuba’s franchise rookie record.
That score held until late in the first period where Nico Sturm helped the Wild make it 2-1 to cap off a tremendous shift by he and his linemates. While the sequence ended with Sturm finding the back of the net, it also featured a pretty pass from Nick Bonino and solid work from Nick Bjugstad behind the net.
With the Wild in control midway through the second period, Adam Henrique tied the game at 2-2 after Rask slipped and fell in front of his own net.
That paved the way for the third period where Joel Eriksson Ek put the Wild in front 3-2 before Derek Grant helped the Ducks tie the game at 3-3 in the final minutes to force overtime.
In the extra session, Kaprizov put the team on his back, racing up the right side, and cleaning up his mess in front to lift the Wild to the win.