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Red-hot line continues to spark Wild as win streak hits three

Rask, Kaprizov, Zuccarello producing on the scoresheet, boosting forward group overall

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

You have to give Sharks rookie defenseman Nikolai Knyzhov credit for trying. 

After seeing his team surrender an early lead then fall behind in the first period, then see the Wild come out red-hot to extend that lead early in the second period, Knyzhov dropped the mitts with Marcus Foligno in an effort to try something, anything ... to change the momentum for his club.

But much like the game itself, Foligno rained down a trio of big right hands, bloodying his opponent to the point where he called for the linesman to enter the fray before things got worse.

It was the only act of mercy displayed by Minnesota on Monday night. 

After falling behind just 45 seconds into the game, the Wild would score the next four goals, then add another two for good measure in a rather dominant 6-2 win at SAP Center in San Jose. 

It was the second time in three nights that the Wild scored five goals in a rout of a division rival, and assured Minnesota of a winning road trip, no matter what happens Thursday night when its current five-game sojourn ends in Colorado. 

For how poorly this trip started -- a lifeless 4-0 loss in Los Angeles last Tuesday -- Minnesota has more than made up for it in the three games since, sweeping Anaheim before blowing through San Jose.

When the Wild returned from its two-week COVID-19 hiatus, it had a bunch of games in hand on the other teams in the West Division. And so far, it has managed to do its part by winning three of its first four out of the break. 

Video: Dean Evason postgame at San Jose

"I think the group has confidence for sure. Clearly you feel good about yourself when you can score goals and defend as well," said Wild coach Dean Evason. "We've been real good at taking it one game at a time and clearly we have to keep doing that."

That one-game-at-a-time approach has helped Minnesota score 11 goals in its past two wins, powered primarily by the line of Kirill Kaprizov, Victor Rask and Mats Zuccarello. 

Video: MIN@SJS: Kaprizov, teammates combine for slick goal

Their five-point game in Anaheim on Saturday night was simply a prelude to the damage it inflicted on Monday. Kaprizov was "limited" to "only" a goal and an assist, while Rask scored a goal and assisted on two others. 

Zuccarello, who has come out of his own injury-related delay to the season scorching hot, had a goal and three assists. In the past three games, Zuccarello has two goals and five assists.

"[Brent] Burns comes out, scores a really nice goal and that can kind of take the wind out of your sails," Foligno said. "But we pushed right back. And Zuccy's line answered with two goals. It just sort of raised us."

It's a line, no question, that has managed to create some uncanny chemistry in a real hurry. 

Video: MIN@SJS: Zuccarello snaps a shot for 1-1 tie in 1st

"They've got a lot of confidence," Evason said. "But what we're happy with is, we started them in the d-zone as well a couple of times and they did the right things to get out of our zone, using their skill up the ice to produce offense, but they're also exiting our zone very well."

Whatever mojo that particular line has has managed to trickle down to the rest of the roster as well. 

Foligno's Gordie Howe Hat Trick highlighted an outstanding effort by him and linemates Zach Parise and Ryan Hartman, who had two assists and continues to play his best hockey in a Wild uniform.

Video: MIN@SJS: Foligno scores to make it 4-1 in 2nd

Parise, who has been snakebitten of late, had a number of outstanding opportunities, and hit the post on one. When Parise has gone through dry spells before in his career, one sign of him coming out of them has been games like Monday night. 

With the Wild heading to Colorado on Wednesday, a place where he always seems to play well, it wouldn't be surprising if Parise made an impact on the scoresheet.

Even the line of Joel Eriksson Ek, Kevin Fiala and Jordan Greenway, which didn't find the scoresheet, accounted for 11 shots on goal.

Nick Bonino, Nico Sturm and Nick Bjugstad were also pointless, but played a strong energy game and is another group that was able to create some solid looks. 

"A lot of confidence right now in all the lines, I think that's the biggest thing," Foligno said. "You can kind of build off some guys, they don't go out there and score, but they get momentum going for you and the next line rolls over there and does the job. That's how we're feeling as a team right now, we're just rolling through and each line can pick the next one up."


Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 6, Sharks 2

Video: Wild roll past Sharks, 6-2

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