Wild save one of their best road games for last: Key takeaways vs. Kings

LOS ANGELES — In their penultimate game of the season Monday, the Minnesota Wild beat a team above them in the Western Conference standings for a change with a strong overall effort at Arena.

Kirill Kaprizov had a goal and an assist, Matt Boldy and Ryan Hartman scored the other goals and Filip Gustavsson – in his final start of his 2023-24 campaign – made 23 saves as the Wild beat the Kings, 3-1 , on their last route. Thursday Blake Lizotte ruined Gustavsson’s shutout with 5:24 remaining.

Marco Rossi played his best game in some time with two assists, including one where he pushed away a check before Kaprizov intentionally slotted his 45th goal past Cam Talbot’s head behind the goal line.

The Wild finished their final road trip of the season with a 3-2-1 record and finished the season 19-18-4 on the road.

The team spent the night in California and will return to Minnesota Tuesday morning before practicing Wednesday in preparation for Thursday’s season finale against the Seattle Kraken.

Some additional remarks:

  • The Wild finished the season with nine wins in 31 games against the nine teams ahead of them in the West. They had lost 12 of their last 13 games against these teams before Monday’s victory.
  • The Wild went 4 for 4 on the penalty kill.
  • Freddy Gaudreau, who missed two games after the birth of his first child, Félix, joined the Wild in Los Angeles and played against the Kings. He skated on the fourth line with Jake Lucchini and Mason Shaw. Mats Zuccarello missed his third straight game for similar family reasons. Coach John Hynes hadn’t spoken to Zuccarello, but even though he hasn’t played or coached since last Tuesday’s game at Colorado, he expects Zuccarello to play in Thursday’s finale against Seattle.
  • Marc-Andre Fleury, who has yet to finalize his decision to retire or re-sign with the Wild, will start Thursday’s final.

Boldy plays with jam

The day Hynes said during a question-and-answer session at Athleticism that for Boldy to become a true star he needs to add a power play to his repertoire, which is exactly what Boldy did against the Kings. Boldy entered the game with 32 hits this season. On his first shift, when Mikey Anderson tried to approach him at the blue line, Boldy took him down, then violently controlled him on the glass and followed up with a two-handed shot. Boldy showed straight away that he had come to play with fire. As Hynes said: “He has the ability to make skill plays, but for him to continue to be on track, to be a dominant player, to be dominant in the playoffs, where… I understand that he hasn’t been, I think with his power play, playing big forward combined with his skill set he could be a real force to be reckoned with. Boldy’s goal was magnificent, his 29th of the season after strong plays from Brock Faber and Rossi. If he scores Thursday, he will record the 12th 30-goal season in Wild history and his second in a row.

Faber-Ohgren impresses, by chance, in Los Angeles

Two summers ago, the Wild traded Kevin Fiala to the Kings for Faber and a first-round pick who they turned into Liam Ohgren. Both players were in Monday’s lineup and they both impressed. One game after a strong effort in San Jose, Faber was outstanding on both sides of the puck. Just look at the special run up the ice he made in the sequence above en route to Boldy’s goal for a 1-0 lead. And one game after scoring his first career goal (a game-winner) and first career multi-point game in San Jose, Ohgren once again showcased his talent and intelligence in Los Angeles. During one shift in the first period, he stole two pucks for two. counter-attacks, was alert enough from the first to wait for Marcus Johansson to come into play before entering the zone and won a battle for the puck behind the net.

Wild goes 11 forwards, seven more defensemen

With the Wild getting few secondary goals, Hynes has opted for 11 forwards and seven defensemen on several occasions lately. One of the main reasons is to give Kaprizov and Boldy more ice time, especially when they have more than one day off on the horizon, as they do on Tuesday and Wednesday. But the benefit of having Adam Beckman and Vinni Lettieri that night was allowing rookies Ohgren and Marat Khusnutdinov to play almost every shift with Kaprizov and Boldy on their wing. Since Khusnutdinov’s debut, Wild fans have argued over the fact that he had to play many games alongside the underperforming Johansson and Gaudreau. That was hardly the case Monday against the Kings.

Hynes said: “You also try to evaluate those guys a little bit, but you also give Kirill a few extra shifts, Boldy a few extra shifts, you put two really good players on the ice a little bit more than they normally would. would be. And I think playing with Ohgren and Khusnutdinov helps them too, and now you can see those two players playing with that style or that level of player and I think that gives you a little bit more of an evaluation of them too, and how they think about the game, how they play in most situations. And both played very well with Boldy and with Kaprizov.

Three stars

1. Kirill Kaprizov, Savage: The star set the tone from the start with numerous scoring opportunities. He then assisted on Hartman’s goal in the second after Joel Eriksson Ek picked Anze Kopitar’s pocket, executed a hell of a backcheck to crush Fiala and ruin a Kings scoring chance early in the third, and brought the score home at 3-0 by sneakily conceding a shot. off Talbot.

2. Filip Gustavsson, Sauvage: After allowing nine goals in his two previous starts, Gustavsson bounced back with a strong effort. His best save came at the start of the third to maintain a 2-0 lead thanks to a steal on Alex Laferrière.

3. Matt Boldy, Wild: Played the type of tough game the Wild want to see consistently in the future and was rewarded with a goal.

Quotes of the night

“We played well. From start to finish, quite complete game. Nice goals, good defensive plays, good blocks, a little bit of everything. — Bold

“After the Colorado game, I think reality set in a little bit. The Vegas game was what it was, but we fixed it. And the response to the last two games, as well as the environment around the room, the concentration and the level of play, are what they should be, whatever the situation. We talked about handling it the right way. We don’t like the situation we find ourselves in, but the only thing we can control is how we handle it. And the guys did a really good job tonight. —Hynes

“Smart. I mean, really smart move. It’s really hard to defend. I mean, the goalie can’t really defend it. The only way to defend it is to bounce it the right way to goalkeeper, but intelligently — Hynes on the bank of Kaprizov shot Talbot’s mask.

“It’s been a long year. There were a lot of ups and downs. Very difficult nights. Very good nights. The consistency just hasn’t been there this year. This match is a good way to end it. —Gustavsson

“I don’t know. He just goes in the middle. I just stopped. I feel like I’m doing nothing. I just stopped. That’s it. I ask afterwards if he’s okay. — Kaprizov on his big backcheck that dumped his former teammate, Fiala

“When you don’t make the playoffs…you don’t care. I want to be in the playoffs. I (receive) a lot of points. Now you should be happier. And now, OK, nothing crazy. — Kaprizov, basically saying he doesn’t care about his 45 goals and 95 points because his season ends Thursday.

Required reading

(Photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today)

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