Kaprizov’s natural hat trick rallies Wild to 3-2 overtime victory over Columbus
From savvy passes to a take-your-pick selection of highlight-reel goals, Kirill Kaprizov has been showcasing his unique talent ever since he debuted with the Wild two years ago.
But what he masterminded on Sunday, flipping a sleepy matinee and near upset by the NHL's last-place team into a rousing rally, was one of his most dominant displays to date — even if he didn't see it that way.
"I wouldn't say this is an above-and-beyond game," Kaprizov said in Russian through an interpreter. "Obviously, a great game, a fun game. But I wouldn't say it ranks anywhere specific."
Kaprizov unlocked a new level in the video game that is his career, polishing off a natural hat trick with 20 seconds to go in overtime to finalize a 3-2 comeback for the Wild over the Blue Jackets in front of 19,063 at Xcel Energy Center that would have felt more jaw-dropping if it wasn't Kaprizov at the controls.
"I literally could have kept him on the ice the whole game," coach Dean Evason said.
After deflecting in a puck off his shoulder only 1:15 into the third period, Kaprizov lifted the Wild out of their two-goal hole at 6 minutes when he skated in alone for a slam-dunk shot after the puck squirted out to him following a power-play faceoff.
He finished his blitz in the final minute of 3-on-3 overtime, a one-timer set up by Calen Addison that culminated in Kaprizov's 37th goal of the season.
"To see 97, I think that's a pretty easy decision," Addison said.
This was Kaprizov's second regular-season hat trick (third overall including playoffs) and the Wild's first natural hat trick since Rem Pitlick had one Nov. 13, 2021, at Seattle.
Kaprizov is only the sixth Wild player to score multiple hat tricks — only Marian Gaborik (9) and Zach Parise (3) have more — and he's the third to tally No. 3 in overtime, joining Joel Eriksson Ek and Mark Parrish.
As for NHL history, Kaprizov is the fifth to complete a natural hat trick with an overtime clincher.
His six career OT goals are tied with Matt Dumba for the most in team history, and the winger's 10 career OT points are tied for second.
"It's got to be the best performance we've seen," Evason said.
In all, the 25-year-old registered eight shots, had 15 total attempts and dished out four hits during a team-high 25:36 of ice time.
"He might be the hardest-working superstar ever," Addison said. "He does everything for us."
Through two periods, Kaprizov boasted only two shots and three attempts.
Columbus capitalized on a pair of turnovers, first intercepting an Alex Goligoski clear for a Mathieu Olivier goal at 16:20 of the first period before a Jon Merrill giveaway preceded a redirect by Liam Foudy 3:04 into the second.
But the score didn't match the action: The Wild had plenty of looks, with goalie Elvis Merzlikins the difference maker; more than half of his 41 saves came through the first two periods.
"We didn't know we were going to come back and win, obviously, but we had a good feeling about how we were playing the game," Evason said. "We were playing right, and we were fortunate that we got rewarded."
"When he wants to take over, he can," linemate Ryan Hartman said.
The Wild penalty kill was also a factor, going 2-for-2, and the power play delivered during a 5-on-3 look to go 1-for-2. Marc-Andre Fleury had 22 saves.
Not only was this the Wild's first successful multi-goal rally of the season, a result that improved them to 5-0-1 in their past six games and 6-1-2 over the past nine, but the victory catapulted the Wild into second place in the Central Division; their 72 points are only two back of No. 1 Dallas.
"Ultimately, the win's the most important," Kaprizov said. "So, that's what I focus on."