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Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 3, Devils 2

Kahkonen makes 32 saves in NHL debut to lift Wild in final game of East Coast trip

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe / Wild.com

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 3-2 win against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on Tuesday night:

1. Goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen made his NHL debut, and it was a good one.

In doing so, he became the first Wild goalie to make his NHL debut in more than six years. 

Per Wild PR maven Megan Kogut: 

Kahkonen became the 85th player to make his NHL debut with the Wild and second this season after Gerald Mayhew did so on Oct. 15.

He became the 18th goalie to play for Minnesota and seventh to make his NHL debut in a Wild sweater, joining Niklas Backstrom (10/7/06 vs. Nashville), Josh Harding (4/4/06 vs. St. Louis), Anton Khudobin (2/4/10 vs. Edmonton), Darcy Kuemper (2/12/13 at Vancouver), Matt Hackett (12/6/11 at San Jose) and Derek Gustafson (3/9/01 at New York Islanders).

League-wide, Kahkonen became the 33rd all-time Finnish-born goalie to play an NHL game, eighth active.

Kahkonen also won his debut, making him the sixth of those seven to also score a victory in his first NHL game (Kuemper was the only one who wasn't victorious), finishing the game with 32 saves.

Kahkonen's start went a lot better than his only other taste of NHL action, a preseason game in Winnipeg on Sept. 18, when the Jets scored on each of their first two shots and led 2-0 just 97 seconds into the game.

He would go on to stop the next 18 shots he faced through 40 minutes before being swapped out for Mat Robson at the start of the third. 

This time around, Kahkonen went 3:13 before he ever saw a puck, swallowing up a Blake Coleman backhander from point-blank range. 

New Jersey's first goal, at 12:44 of the first period, shouldn't have even counted; Minnesota challenged the play for a high stick by Wayne Simmonds in the neutral zone. The goal call on the ice was confirmed and the Wild was forced to kill a penalty, but the NHL later admitted its error and said the goal should not have counted.

Tweet from @mnwildScribe: E-mail just now from the NHL on #mnwild's challenge in the first period: pic.twitter.com/aRql4CtRtY

Kahkonen and the Wild overcame that bit of controversy in finishing off a 1-0-2 road trip to the East Coast.


2. The Wild protected this third-period lead.

After losing a two-goal lead in the final two minutes at Boston on Saturday night to open the trip, Minnesota lost a one-goal lead Monday night at Madison Square Garden.

Both the Bruins and Rangers went on to win those games in overtime. 

Video: MIN@NJD: Suter gives Wild the lead

There was no such drama on Tuesday, as Minnesota secured the victory and extended its point streak to seven games. The stretch is the longest such points streak for the Wild since an eight-game stretch between Feb. 21 and March 7 of last season (6-0-2). 


3. Zach Parise scored the game's opening goal in his former home arena. 

It took awhile for the veteran forward to get credit, however, as Ryan Suter was the announced goal scorer just four seconds into a first-period power play chance. 

Mikko Koivu won the draw and Kevin Fiala directed it back to Suter at the right point. He skated to his left and fired a shot at the net where Parise got a piece of the puck in front for his 10th goal of the season. 

Video: MIN@NJD: Parise scores PPG in 1st period

For Parise, it was his third career goal against the Devils and second at Prudential Center. It was also his 61st career power-play goal, which moved him one ahead of Mikko Koivu and two clear of Marian Gaborik for the franchise record in that department.

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