Kirill Kaprizov completes hat trick, Wild even playoff series with Blues
After getting shut out in Game 1, the Wild responded with a big win over the Blues in Game 2.
ST. PAUL -- All the Minnesota Wild needed was a break to get back in the series with the St. Louis Blues.
They got it in Game 2 on Wednesday night at the Xcel Energy Center. Literally.
With the Wild struggling to get anything going nearly 10 minutes into the contest, Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo broke his stick in the defensive zone. As a result, the puck squirted away from Bortuzzo, and landed right in front of Jordan Greenway.
That proved to be just the break the Wild needed. A few seconds after Greenway scooped up the loose puck, Joel Eriksson uncorked a shot that beat Blues goaltender Ville Husso clean.
That opened the floodgates for the Wild and they rode the wave to a 6-2 win over the Blues to even the series at 1-1.
It was an impressive performance from the Wild a couple of nights after getting shut out by the Blues. Especially from Kirill Kaprizov. He finished with a hat trick in the contest, marking the first time in franchise history that anyone has accomplished that feat in the postseason.
Never mind that the Wild couldn’t solve Husso in Game 1 on their way to a 4-0 loss. Never mind that the Wild were horrific on the power play throughout the series opener, finishing an abysmal 0 for 6 with the man advantage. Never mind the legendary Marc-Andre Fleury was far from spectacular, coughing up rebounds left and right.
As far as the Wild were concerned, as long as they kept play 5-on-5, they were better than the Blues. While the Wild have struggled mightily on special teams this season, they have been among the best teams in the NHL at full strength.
That proved to be the case throughout Game 2, though the Wild finishing 2 for 3 on the power play certainly helped their cause.
After an anemic start to the game, the Wild exploded offensively starting midway through the first period when Eriksson Ek finished off a pass from Greenway to make it 1-0. A few minutes later, Freddy Gaudreau pounded home a rebound to make it 2-0, then Kaprizov scored to stretch the lead to 3-0.
Not to be outdone, Eriksson Ek added a highlight-reel goal early in the second period to make it 4-0 in favor of the Wild.
Not surprisingly, the Wild took their foot off the gas after that, and Blues winger Jordan Kyrou scored to cut the deficit to 4-1.
Things got a little stressful in the third period when Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko found the back of the net to make it 4-2.
Fittingly, Kaprizov was the player to calm things down for the Wild, while simultaneously sending the announced crowd of 19,376 into oblivion. After potting a pass from Mats Zuccarello to make it 5-2, Kaprizov completed his hat trick with an empty-netter to finalize the score at 6-2.
Looks like the series is just getting started.