After Three-Goal Second Period
The Minnesota Wild won 5-2 over the Arizona Coyotes (1-11-1) on Wednesday night and improved to 9-3-0, their best start to a season since 2006-07. Despite going 22-for-58 on faceoffs, the Wild outshot the Coyotes 30-25 and dominated on special teams (2-for-3 on the power play, 3-for-3 on the penalty kill). Goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen made 24 saves in the game and picked up his second win of the season.
Minnesota got on the board just 4:22 into the game as Joel Eriksson-Ek scored his fifth goal of the season after great plays by Mats Zuccarello and Jared Spurgeon. Sprugeon’s poke-check pass was just enough to get the puck to Eriksson-Ek, who collected the pass, skated into space, and labeled the puck into the top-right corner of the net.
The Wild would add another goal 4:38 later as Marcus Foligno redirected a John Merrill shot past Coyotes’ goaltender Karel Vejmelka. It looked as though Merrill initially scored the goal, but Foligno got a touch on the puck on a moving screen in front of the net. Arizona would get a goal back before the end of the period, however, as Andrew Ladd scored on a breakaway with 5:50 left in the first period. Ladd was left wide open at center ice after the Wild turned the puck over while entering the zone and Jonas Brodin blew a tire while trying to get back and defend.
The second period started off quick for the Wild, as they scored two goals in the first 3:21 of the period. Kevin Fiala scored the first goal to make it 3-1 with the Wild’s (arguably) best goal of the season so far. After a Jared Spurgeon centering pass was tipped into the air, Fiala tracked the puck and batted it out of the air with the back part of his stick. The puck appeared to hit the crossbar before ringing off the post and into the net. Fiala also tallied two assists and was named the first star of the game.
Just 36 seconds later Dmitry Kulikov scored his first goal in a Minnesota sweater to make it 4-1. Kulikov received a pass in the slot from John Merrill and made one move to get both the defender and the goalie down before firing the puck into the wide open net. The Wild then fought back Arizona’s momentum, killing back-to-back penalties later in the second period. At the end of the second and just a few seconds into a 5-on-3 power play, Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello combined for a brilliant play behind the Arizona net. The two passed back and forth to each other, ultimately making Vejmelka commit to one side of the net before Kaprizov slid the puck into the other. Kaprizov now has three goals and an assist in his last four games.
Heading into the final frame the Wild didn’t have to do much. They continued to get offensive pressure but were more focused on playing solid in their own zone. Arizona scored one goal, a Shane Gostisbehere one-timer in the slot, but it ultimately didn’t lead to anything for the Coyotes. It was promising to see the Wild preform so well with a lead for the second straight game, in the win over the Coyotes.
The road trip continues on Thursday night as the Wild face off against the Vegas Golden Knights (7-6-0) at 9:00 p.m. CST at T-Mobile Arena. It will be the first meeting between the two teams this season. Cam Talbot (7-2-0, 2.85 GAA this season) is expected to make the start for Minnesota on Thursday night.
Also Read: Minnesota Whitecaps 21-22 Preview