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Postgame Hat Trick: Penguins 4, Wild 3

Notes, quotes and reactions from Minnesota's overtime defeat at the hands of Pittsburgh Thursday night in St. Paul

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe / Wild.com

Wild.com's Dan Myers gives three takeaways from the Wild's 4-3 overtime loss against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Thursday night:


1. History in the making

Kirill Kaprizov scored a mammoth goal early in the third period, a goal that was big for multiple reasons.

One, the Wild was down 3-2 at the time and was desperately aiming for the equalizer. When Ryan Hartman found Kaprizov creeping down the slot for a quick one-timer, Kaprizov's shot did just that.

It's almost as though you just expect Kaprizov to score big goals at this point.

Video: PIT@MIN: Kaprizov ties Gaborik's record with goal

"Pretty much. He never seems to score an insignificant point or goal. He always gets us back in the game, ties the game late, scores the OT winner. He's always finding ways to make an impact on the game. And it's never in those games that we're already up or something like that," said Wild goaltender Cam Talbot. "He's not looking for his cookies or anything like that. He comes to play when the game is on the line. That's why he's a superstar."

The goal was also his 83rd point of the season, which equalled Marian Gaborik's franchise record for single-season points originally established in 2007-08. 

It was also his 14th goal in the month of March, which set a new team record, surpassing Eric Staal's previous record of 13 in a calendar month in February of 2018.

Keep in mind, there are still 15 games to go this season, and with the way Kaprizov is playing, he appears ready to not only shatter said record, but perhaps approach the century mark when it comes to points. 

He's now also up to 38 goals, four shy of a team record shared by Gaborik and Staal. Kaprizov's goal mark is tied with Gaborik for third-most in a single campaign. 

The goal ended up earning the Wild a point in the standings, as Minnesota lost in overtime for the first time this season. It had won its previous seven decided in the extra session. Had it found a way to make it eight, the Wild would have become the first team in NHL history to win eight games on a homestand of nine games or more. 

But alas, it came up one goal shy.

Still, a 7-1-1 stretch on home ice is nothing to sneeze at. Earning 15 of a possible 18 points at Xcel Energy Center, especially after the way the homestand started (a 6-2 loss to the Nashville Predators) earns the Wild some much needed breathing room with a tough four-game road trip on the horizon.

Video: Talbot postgame vs. Pittsburgh

"Every game is going to be a playoff type atmosphere down the stretch here, starting the last few games here and going into this road trip," Talbot said. "We're playing some of the best teams in the league and we're going to have to have it every single night. They're going to be hard and heavy games. We're built for it, but it's going to be tough opponents coming up here. They have the same aspirations we do this year and we know those division's games are obviously huge right now, too. 

"Every game is a four-point game right now coming down the stretch as we're jockeying for position. Those are all going to be huge games on this road trip. We have to take the momentum from this homestand and take it on the road."

Talbot, making his first start since being named the NHL's First Star of the Week, was outstanding in making 35 saves. He had no chance on the Pens' first and second goals and little chance on Rickard Rakell's second of the game, which finished off a pretty 2-on-1 rush with Sidney Crosby and gave Pittsburgh a 3-1 lead.

Video: Evason postgame vs. Pittsburgh

Talbot also made two or three saves on Evgeni Malkin's eventual winning goal in overtime before the future Hall of Famer finally stuffed home the winner with 1:03 remaining. 

"Such great saves right at the end. He's just such a competitor. So pissed off after that goal," said Wild coach Dean Evason. "He shouldn't have to make three saves. But he's doing everything to give us a chance. He's just such a professional and great goaltender obviously."


2. Dumba breaks the ice ... in more ways than one

The Penguins scored first in this one, but the Wild got its first goal not long after when Matt Dumba tied the game at 1-1 on a power-play goal 10:51 into the first period.

Amazingly, it was the first power-play goal by a Wild defenseman this season. That's right, it took 66 games (!) for a Minnesota blueliner to light the lamp in a game, but it finally happened on Thursday.

Video: PIT@MIN: Dumba knots it up with 2nd goal in 2 games

It wasn't a Matt Dumba-patented clap bomb like we've grown accustomed to. It was a dribbling rebound off a scramble in front that Dumba poked just hard enough to squirt across the goal line ... and just barely across said line, before Kris Letang nearly swept it out of harm's way.

Of course, they all count the same in the end, and in the boxscore, Dumba's power-play goal was as pretty as any of the previous 25 power-play goals he'd scored in his career entering the night. 

Video: Dumba postgame vs. Pittsburgh

"I wanted to put it away a little bit better than that," Dumba said. "But it crossed the line."

Dumba has now surpassed his season total of six goals from each of the past two seasons, doing so in two more games this season than last, and in 16 fewer games than 2019-20, his first back off a serious shoulder/chest injury that cost him the final four months of the 2018-19 campaign.


3. Playoff-type hockey

Get used to hearing that over the next month. As teams in the postseason race gear up for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the games are only going to become faster, harder and more physical. 

Take Thursday night. It sure seemed like an infirmary, with guys leaving the playing surface only to come back, then head off again. 

The Penguins lost Jason Zucker for the game in the second period when he tumbled awkwardly into the boards and looked to sustain a serious leg injury of some kind. You have to feel for the former Wild forward/awesome dude, who was playing for the first time in 2 1/2 months after having core muscle surgery. 

Video: PIT@MIN: Gaudreau goes by glove, burying Fiala's feed

He wasn't the only one to leave early either. 

Speaking of good dudes, Jon Merrill won't accompany the Wild on the upcoming road trip after he blocked a shot in the game, sustaining an upper-body injury. 

Matt Boldy was also in and out of the locker room (in between dishing out a couple of assists), also dealing with an upper-body issue. Boldy will be on the trip, per Evason.

With Boldy and Merrill out, it was more minutes for everyone else.

Video: Gaudreau postgame vs. Pittsburgh

'It's tough to lose players like that of course, your changes come faster," said Wild forward Freddy Gaudreau. "I think we did a good job of simplifying even though it became a little harder with the guys out."

Jake Middleton is fine after gloving down a slap shot late in the game, one that looked like it stung.

"It's that time of year," Dumba said. "Guys are sacrificing, doing whatever it takes."

Video: PIT@MIN: Talbot makes save on Guentzel

Minnesota blocked 17 shots in the game, doing the things it needs to get playoff ready. But it's a style of play that will not be easy to sustain physically. 

"That's why we play all year, we play that way all year so we can continue to play that way going forward," Evason said. "Our guys know how to play. Injuries don't happen because we're finishing checks or blocking shots. They just happen. It's going to happen. 

"You can play a real passive game and you can get hurt. Our players are conditioned to play that way, their mindset their bodies and we'll continue to play the way the Minnesota Wild plays."


Loose pucks
  • Jared Spurgeon had an assist and now has 30 points on the season, his fifth 30-point campaign
  • Kaprizov's goal also extended his point streak to five games
  • Kevin Fiala had an assist to extend his point streak to five games
  • Gaudreau's goal was his 10th of the year, extending his career high
  • Dumba has points in three consecutive games
  • Jake Guentzel also had a goal for the Penguins
  • Malkin finished with a goal and an assist
  • John Marino had a pair of helpers
  • Casey DeSmith made 28 saves in the win

Dan's three stars

1. Evgeni Malkin

2. Rickard Rakell

3. Kirill Kaprizov


Highlights

Video: MIN Recap: Kaprizov makes Wild history in OT defeat

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