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Wild suffer overtime loss in thrilling game with Penguins

Meanwhile, Kirill Kaprizov tied Marian Gaborik’s franchise record for points in a single season

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Minnesota Wild
Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (71) celebrates his game winning goal against Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot (33) with teammates in overtime Thursday, March 31, 2022, at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
David Berding / USA Today Sports

ST. PAUL — There are no such things as moral victories for the Minnesota Wild. Not at this point in the season. Not for a team that has the ultimate goal of winning a Stanley Cup.

Still, their 4-3 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center sure felt like a moral victory in the grand scheme of things.

With the Wild down a couple of players for most of the night and dead tired down the stretch, they managed to get the game to overtime where Evgeni Malkin eventually played hero for the Penguins. That snapped a seven-game winning streak for the Wild.

Meanwhile, Kirill Kaprizov tied Marian Gaborik’s franchise record for points in a single season. The 24-year-old Russian scored a goal and now has 83 points with 16 games to play. In other words, Kaprizov is going to obliterate the franchise record.

Not long after puck drop the Wild found themselves chasing the game. That’s because Rickard Rakell scored on a perfect redirection 66 seconds into the contest to put the Penguins in front 1-0.

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Though it wasn’t an ideal start for the Wild, especially against a veteran-laden team like the Penguins, Matt Dumba tied the game at 1-1 midway through the first period. With chaos in front of goaltender Casey DeSmith’s crease, Dumba managed to jam a loose puck past the goal line.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) skates with the puck past Pittsburgh Penguins center Teddy Blueger (53) in the second period Thursday, March 31, 2022, at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
David Berding / USA Today Sports

That score held until early in the second period when Jake Guentzel scored on the power play to put the Penguins back in front 2-1. That was the start of a rather sloppy frame for the Wild that featured a couple of penalties. The deficit grew midway through the second period when Rakell stretched the Penguins’ lead to 3-1 thanks to a perfect pass from Sidney Crosby.

It looked like Jordan Greenway cut into the deficit late in the second period with a goal off the rush. The officials reviewed the play, however, and ruled Marcus Foligno offside. On the ensuing sequence, Freddy Gaudreau finished off a feed from Kevin Fiala to cut the deficit to 3-2, for real this time.

That gave the Wild some juice heading into the third period, and Kaprizov promptly tied the game at 3-3 with a blast for the slot, pulling even with Gaborik in the process. While both teams pushed hard in the final 20 minutes, neither team mustered a goal.

That set the stage for overtime where Cam Talbot made a series of clutch saves before Malkin stuffed home the game-winner.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot (33) makes a save against Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Jake Guentzel (59) in overtime Thursday, March 31, 2022, at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
David Berding / USA Today Sports

Briefly

Matt Boldy and Jon Merrill both suffered apparent injuries in the game and did not return to action.

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