In many ways, savage winger Marcus Foligno beating up Sharks defender Nikolai Knyzhov was a microcosm of the game on Monday at the SAP Center.
The only difference was that Foligno called the fight with Knyzhov gracious after drawing blood as the Wild poured salt in the wound on the way to a 6-2 win for the Sharks.
Suddenly Wild has won three games in a row for the first time this season and is steadily advancing in the West Coast division. Perhaps more importantly, the Wild get production top to bottom and don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Just look at the statistics from Monday’s game. It had a little bit of everything.
Not only did Foligno score a hat trick from Gordie Howe with a goal, an assist and a fight, Mats Zuccarello continued to impress with a four-point night and Victor Rask took in his own three-point goal. If that wasn’t enough, rookie sensation Kirill Kaprizov scored a goal and the Wild even switched to power play for the second game in a row.
« I think the group has confidence, » said coach Dean Evason. « You feel good when you can score goals and defend them. »
It was the second game in a row that Wild received a huge production from the Kaprizov-Rask-Zuccarello line. You have a total of 14 points in this range.
« We have four lines now, » said Zuccarello. « Every night there is a different line. That is good for the team. It makes us dangerous if we have different lines every night. That is nice to see. »
As dominant as the wilds were throughout the game, it was a disastrous start when Brent Burns stunned his former team with a goal in 45 seconds. That made it 1-0 in favor of the Sharks before most of the players on the bench had a chance to jump off the boards.
Fortunately for the wild, they fought back in a hurry with a vortex later in the first period. It started with a nifty goal from Zuccarello to make it 1-1 and was continued just 11 seconds later with a goal from Kaprizov to make it 2-1
Even when Knyzhov was tired of making the sharks work by dropping the gloves late in the first stage, Foligno quickly ended the fight with a couple of haymakers. He actually stopped throwing punches at one point and called the linesman to stop him doing any more damage.
« I caught him with the first one and the second blew him up, » said Foligno. « I know he’s a little kid and probably didn’t know the fighting aspect. I just thought it was enough. »
That helped Wild feel good in the second half and Ian Cole increased the lead to 3-1 with a rising shot that defeated goalkeeper Martin Jones after Foligno received an assist for Cole’s goal , ended Gordie Howe’s hat trick later in the second half with a fluttering shot to make it 4-1.
« Our line was everywhere tonight, » said Foligno, who played alongside Ryan Hartman and Zach Parise. “We did more plays. I’ve done more plays to help these guys out. I felt a little better with the puck tonight. »
That goal effectively knocked Jones out of the fold, and while Logan Couture helped the Sharks cut the deficit to 4-2 later in the second half, the Wild stifled hopes of a comeback with a Jonas Brodin goal 5: 2.
This paved the third section where the wilds continued to dominate the game before Rask added an empty net goal to end the result 6-2.
« It’s nice to retire, » said Foligno. « I thought we did a great piece and it suits us right now. It feels good to score a goal now. It’s something we have to continue. »
On the subject of matching items
Wild takes a new approach to power play combat: let everyone play
Kevin Fiala missed a chance at a hat trick. Here’s why the Wild are okay with that.
Kevin Fiala leads as Wild Coast to a 5-1 win against Ducks
Wild winger Mats Zuccarello is promoted to lineup in return
Wild goalkeeper Cam Talbot returns after battling COVID