Red-hot Wild power play is at NHL-best 50% in April

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Sarah McLellan, Star Tribune
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Last week the architects were Kevin Fiala and Kirill Kaprizov.

On Wednesday, Mats Zuccarello and Marcus Johansson were the headliners — the latest catalysts on a Wild power play that continues to surge after going 3-for-3 in a 5-2 victory over the Coyotes at Xcel Energy Center.

"We seem to be really understanding the dimensions of where we are, the setups, and making some nice plays as well as getting breaks," coach Dean Evason said. "So we're happy with it for sure."

Since the calendar flipped to April, the Wild has been operating at an eye-popping efficiency — going 12-for-24 and recording multiple goals in three games.

The 3-for-3 outing, which featured two goals from Zuccarello on assists from Johansson, came on the heels of a 4-for-5 night in the 8-3 rout of the Avalanche last Wednesday that included two power-play goals each from Fiala and Kaprizov.

After starting the season with the NHL's worst power play, scoring just three goals in its first 50 opportunities, the Wild has climbed to 25th at 17.1%, and its 50% since April 1 leads the league. Going back to March 10, the team's 17 power-play tallies ranked first after its game Wednesday.

And the contributors have varied; Seven players have scored a power-play goal this month. Nick Bonino had the other Wild power-play goal against the Coyotes.

"With the skill we have here on this team, we're better than a lower-in-the-league power play," Bonino said. "For it to get clicking now when the playoffs come around and you're not getting as many chances, you gotta be dialed in and ready to score. Both units right now seem like they are getting some bounces."

Foligno returnsMarcus Foligno suited up for his first game since breaking his right ankle, an injury that sidelined him 15 games.

In the second period, Foligno left the bench briefly after delivering a hit to the Coyotes' Johan Larsson but returned for his next shift.

"I just hit a guy and landed on my skates and actually just cut my skate laces," Foligno said. "So when I went to go step out, I almost felt like I came out of my skates a little bit. I saw that the play was coming back up, so I had to jump headfirst into the bench pretty quick. So it looked worse than it actually was."

Pulling awayThe Wild will visit Arizona next week for two games, but those head-to-head matchups still might not be enough to help the Coyotes catch the Wild.

After losing Wednesday, the team's fifth straight setback, No. 5 Arizona is 10 points behind the No. 3 Wild despite having played three more games.

"We gotta keep going moving forward," Foligno said, "and we know if we do, the next couple of games can really differentiate us between the teams beneath us."

Getting his feet wetThrough three games with Iowa in the American Hockey League, prospect Matt Boldy has two goals and an assist.

The 2019 first-round draft pick left Boston College late last month to turn pro, signing a three-year, entry-level contract with the Wild.

"He's off to a pretty good start," General Manager Bill Guerin said. "I think he's settled in quite nicely. He had a good first couple of games. From all the reports that I hear, he gets it. Doesn't matter where you were drafted or how high you were picked, he understands that he's a rookie and he's handling himself as he should."

Moment of silenceThe Wild held a moment of silence for Daunte Wright ahead of puck drop, the team's first game since Wright was fatally shot by police Sunday during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center.

Sarah McLellan • 612-673-4619