Kirill Kaprizov was the scorer, but it was Marco Rossi who stood out in the Wild’s on-ice celebration.
After eight quiet games, Rossi finally picked up his first NHL point when he slammed the puck down the ice for Kaprizov to bury himself behind Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen – but not before Montreal launched a video review for check if Rossi used a high stick to fix the goal.
“I was just praying,” the rookie said.
He had nothing to worry about: Rossi’s stick didn’t connect to the puck above shoulder height, and the play was one of many organized by Wild youth who helped the team trailed 4-1 Tuesday in front of 16,385 at Xcel Energy Center for its fifth victory in the last seven games and its second in a week against Montreal.
“We’re lucky as an organization,” said goaltender Marc-André Fleury. “We have good depth. So the guys who come from Iowa are playing well and helping us.”
Kaprizov is a team-high eight goals after scoring twice, Mason Shaw scored his second in as many appearances and Fleury continued his resurgence with 34 saves to extend his 5-0-1 streak.
Add two runs apiece by Joel Eriksson Ek and Matt Boldy, and the Wild passed their first one-game test without injured forwards Marcus Foligno, Jordan Greenway and Ryan Hartman.
But adversity mounts.
The Wild lost another forward when Brandon Duhaime left early with an upper body injury.
Coach Dean Evason said he didn’t know how long Duhaime would be out, “but it’s not positive.
Those holes in the lineup created more opportunities for the Wild’s newcomers, and they didn’t shrink in the spotlight as the team descended on St. Paul for a brief homestand. The Under-25 crowd racked up two goals and four assists.
“The list is quite long right now of key contributors that aren’t on the list,” Shaw said. “I think myself and other guys are trying to step up and I think we did a good job.”
Just 1 minute and 9 seconds into the second period, Shaw rebounded an Eriksson Ek shot with his backhand for his third point in two games. Shaw, a fourth-round pick by the Wild in 2017, was one of the last cut out of training camp but has been on the team since Greenway was injured Oct. 20.
“I sometimes find myself looking around and wanting to pinch myself a bit to even realize how lucky I am to be in this place,” said Shaw, whose father Aaron was at the game. “So very special.”
Only 2:20 after Shaw’s goal, Kaprizov converted on the power play with a deft deflection off a pass from Boldy. Eriksson Ek also assisted on goal for his third multipoint game of the season; the power play finished 1-for-4.
Then with 5:05 to go in the second, Kaprizov and Rossi teamed up for Rossi’s scoring run.
“As a striker, of course, it’s a bit frustrating not to have points,” said Rossi, the ninth overall selection in 2020. “But for me it was important to play right way and to continue like this because I knew it would come sooner or later.
“I’m really happy to have this first point.”
In the third, Nick Suzuki of the Canadiens ruined Fleury’s shutout attempt with a power play one-timer from Montreal (1 for 2) at 1:30 before Boldy fired the puck into an empty net with 3: 08 to do. Allen totaled 27 saves. He was also in goal in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the Wild in Montreal.
It was Kaprizov’s second two-goal game of the season. His eight goals in 10 games are the second in franchise history; Brian Rolston scored nine goals in 2006-07.
As for Rossi, while he wasn’t an offensive lightning rod after knocking the team out of camp, the Wild have noticed progress.
After just two shot attempts in his first three games, Rossi had six in the recent five-game road trip and three more on Tuesday.
“The whole team is thrilled for him,” Shaw said, “and I’m sure the floodgates will open for him.”