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Wild star Kirill Kaprizov nearly scored the goal of the year. How the heck did he do it?

It would have been the frontrunner for goal of the year. Instead, it was a near miss, still worthy of a spot on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10.

NHL: Tampa Bay Lightning at Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild left wing Kirill Kaprizov carries the puck up ice during against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, at Xcel Energy Center.
Bruce Fedyck / USA Today Sports

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Wild star Kirill Kaprizov collected a loose puck smack dab in the middle of the slot on Wednesday night at Xcel Energy Center. He deked in and out in front of Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Brian Elliott, and at the very last second, pulled the puck backwards between his legs as he came to a complete stop, then effortlessly scooped it up with his blade and feathered a shot on net.

As the announced crowd of 18,427 held its collective breath in anticipation of something spectacular, the puck clanged off the piece of iron where the goal post meets the cross bar.

It would have been the frontrunner for goal of the year. Instead, it was a near miss, still worthy of a spot on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10.

“I thought it was in,” Wild captain Jared Spurgeon said. “I don’t think anything surprises us with what he can do.”

Never mind that Kaprizov nearly pulled off the unthinkable. That he even thought to do something like that in a game speaks to his generational talent.

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His linemate Sam Steel joked that if he wasn’t too busy watching Kaprizov’s wizardry he would have been in perfect position to clean up the rebound. Steel failed to crash the net with his usual reckless abandon because his eyes were fixated on the puck as it floated through the air.

“I think a lot of guys can do it in practice and whatnot, or in the summer,” Steel said. “To think of it live like that in a high-speed situation is pretty impressive.”

As impressive as that sequence was in real time, teammate Matt Boldy found himself equally as impressed by a play earlier in the Wild’s impressive 5-1 victory over the Lightning. With the Wild on the power play, Boldy slapped a pass into the slot, and Kaprizov somehow redirected it into the back of the net.

“The first thing I said to him was, ‘That was pretty insane,’ ” Boldy said. “I don’t know if he went behind his back with the tip or what.”

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That’s the beauty of Kaprizov as he continues to cement himself among the best players in the NHL. Many of the things the young Russian forward does on a nightly basis are unfathomable. Wednesday’s near miss in close is yet another example of that.

“It doesn’t surprise me too much with how good he is,” Boldy said. “Just another day in the life for Kirill.”

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Related Topics: MINNESOTA WILD
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