The Wild Warmup is presented by Bryant Heating and Cooling
ST. PAUL — Following a dramatic overtime win at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday night, the Wild will have no time to rest on its laurels as it hopes right from the frying pan and into the fire against the NHL-leading Colorado Avalanche on Sunday.
Kirill Kaprizov scored with 63 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime, where Wild captain Jared Spurgeon scored his third career OT winner, delivering Minnesota its fifth consecutive victory.
The win was well-earned, as it outshot the Blue Jackets by a 13-3 margin in the third period, but for the better part of 19 minutes, couldn’t find a way to solve Elvis Merzlikins.
That was until Kaprizov’s shot from the left-wing wall got through traffic and found the net for his 23rd multi-point game of the season, a new franchise record.
Kaprizov now has 80 points this season, becoming the second player in team history to do so, and is just three points behind Marian Gaborik’s single-season franchise mark.
“There’s something special there. The knack to step up,” said Wild coach Dean Evason. “We’ve seen it through history that great players do that. They don’t score necessarily in the 7-1 hockey games. They score in all situations but most importantly in these tight type of games and step up and find a way. He’s a special player.”
The victory came in Marc-Andre Fleury‘s debut with the Wild. He was the fourth and final member of the team’s pre-deadline acquisition to play in his first game with Minnesota, following Tyson Jost, Nicolas Deslauriers and Jake Middleton.
For Jost, the game Sunday will be his first game against his former club. The former University of North Dakota star was acquired from Colorado on March 15 in exchange for Nico Sturm.
The 10th overall selection in the 2016 NHL Draft, Jost played in 321 games over parts of six seasons for the Avs, tallying 45 goals and 103 points.
Jost has one assist in five games with the Wild but has provided good energy and effective penalty killing in his first couple weeks with his new club.
Sturm played in 111 games with Minnesota over parts of four seasons, scoring 20 goals and 36 points. He’s been held off the scoresheet in his first four games with Colorado.
Cam Talbot will earn the start between the posts for the Wild. He’s won his past seven starts, his longest winning stretch of the season, posting a 2.15 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage during that stretch of games, which included one brief relief appearance as well.
Colorado has won five of its past six games, including a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night at Ball Arena.
The game Sunday marks the first of a quick two-game trip, which concludes Tuesday night against Pacific Division-leading Calgary at the Saddledome.
Forward Gabriel Landeskog and defensemen Samuel Girard and Bowen Byram will not play because of injuries. Landeskog, second on the club with 30 goals, had knee surgery earlier this month and is expected to miss at least a few more weeks.
Valeri Nichushkin has been skating in his place next to Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen on Colorado’s top line.
Nazem Kadri, in the midst of an All-Star season, leads the club with 54 assists and 79 points in 62 games. Rantanen has a team-high 32 goals. MacKinnon has 22 goals and 48 assists for 70 points in just 50 games.
The Avs beefed up its lineup at the trade deadline, also acquiring defenseman Josh Manson from Anaheim, as well as forwards Andrew Cogliano from the San Jose Sharks and Artturi Lehkonen from the Montreal Canadiens.
Lehkonen has yet to play in a game for the Avs, as he has had issues securing immigration paperwork which is preventing him from playing in games.
Former Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper is expected to get the nod between the posts. He’s 30-9-2 with a 2.39 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage in 45 games this season.