An ‘engaged’ Matt Boldy, Kirill Kaprizov and strong special teams: Key Wild takeaways vs. Golden Knights

The Minnesota Wild beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Las Vegas Golden Knights 5-3 at T-Mobile Arena on Monday night.

  • The Wild have now won six of their last eight games, pulling to within five points of the idle St. Louis Blues for the second wild-card spot in the West.
  • Matt Boldy was the best player on the ice, scoring a goal, adding two assists and 16 shot attempts (seven on goal).
  • With two assists Monday, Brock Faber has tied Connor Bedard for the most points as a rookie this season (31).
  • Connor Dewar returned to the lineup for the Wild for the first time since Jan. 19.
  • Marcus Foligno went on injured reserve to make room for Dewar, but he’s eligible to return Saturday against the Sabres.
  • The Golden Knights honored Alex Pietrangelo for playing in his 1,000th career NHL game; giving him a gold stick instead of a silver one was a nice touch.

An engaged Boldy, Kaprizov

It’s no secret that coach John Hynes wasn’t happy with his top six in a win in Chicago last week, calling some of those forwards “passengers.” Well, since the Wild made the switch Friday of putting Boldy and Kirill Kaprizov on a line together with Joel Eriksson Ek, the Wild’s top two offensive stars have clicked. What Hynes likes the most is how “engaged” the two have been, both in creating offense and battling to get the puck back at the other end.

Kaprizov and Boldy combined for 22 shot attempts in Friday’s win over the Penguins, and 27 combined Monday in Vegas. The two each had an assist on the power play goals in the first period. Boldy made an aggressive move to create a chance, leading to Marco Rossi’s goal in the third period. Then, before the PA announcer could announce the Rossi goal, Boldy delivered again. Boldy hunted down a dump-in, creating a turnover by Adin Hill and flipping in an odd-angled shot. You could tell by Boldy’s emphatic fist bump that he was feeling it, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for the Wild.

Strong special teams

The Wild power play hasn’t been a major strength this season — they entered Monday 17th in the league. But the unit came through in a big way during the first period. The Golden Knights took three straight penalties, giving the Wild a combined two minutes of a 5-on-3 power play. What stood out was how Minnesota had a shot-first mentality, trying to create some traffic and scrambles in front of Hill. A slick give-and-go with Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello resulted in the first goal, a one-timer by Zuccarello to tie the game. Then, just after the second power play ended, Eriksson Ek made a redirect in front of a heck of a touch pass from Boldy to make it 2-1. The Wild’s penalty kill was also strong, killing off three straight power plays in the second period, keeping it a tied 2-2 game heading into the third. You could tell what a difference it is to have Jonas Brodin back, as he was really good on Monday.

Gustavsson bounces back

Filip Gustavsson’s night got off to a rough start. Just 22 seconds into the game, a Jonathan Marchessault centering pass took a wacky bounce off Faber and over the head of Gustavsson to give the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead. Gustavsson didn’t appear to see Vegas’ second goal, either, which came on a power play. But Gustavsson bounced back with a strong rest of the game, including making some key saves on three second period power plays to keep it a 2-2 game.

His best stop was on a Michael Amadio chance in the second that was set up beautifully by Mark Stone. Stone scored midway through the third to make it a 4-3 game, but Gustavsson closed the door. That included a glove save on Marchessault with a minute left and the Golden Knights having an extra attacker.

Three stars

  1. Matt Boldy, Wild — The star winger was like a man possessed, racking up a goal and two assists and seven shots on goal.
  2. Brock Faber, Wild — The shutdown defenseman had two assists and played an overall strong two-way game.
  3. Kirill Kaprizov, Wild — Kaprizov had another engaged game, picking up two assists and six shots on goal.

Required reading

(Photo: Stephen R. Sylvanie / USA Today)

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