The last four meetings between the Wild and the Golden Knights in St.Paul have resulted in a 3-0-1 record for Minnesota while scoring 14 and allowing only 5. The Wild have also gotten stellar goaltending at home vs Vegas, carrying a .959 save percentage while Vegas has a .885 save percentage at the Xcel Energy Center
The Wild return home after a short and struggling road trip going 1-2-1. The boys in green carry a 5-3-0 record at home this year and look to capitalize on home ice after grabbing 3 points in 4 games on the road.
The Golden Knights, who were without their captain Mark Stone and defenders Alex Pietrangelo and Brayden McNabb, came out the gates hot, pressuring the Wild and Kaapo Kahkonen despite being a little injury-plagued.
Coming into Monday’s game the Wild rank 8th in the NHL in killing penalties, they were tested early as they took a too-many-men on the ice penalty just seven minutes in but were able to kill it off against Vegas’ 21st ranked power play.
The Wild proceeded to go 3/3 on the PK
Like always the Wild’s star wingers Kevin Fiala and Kirill Kaprizov were dynamite throughout the whole game and probably should have scored a couple more if it wasn’t for Marc-Andre Fleury’s terrific effort for Vegas.
Just under 11 minutes into the game, the Wild capitalized on a 2 on 1 with Fiala’s 8th of the year. A goal that was in the cause of a great defensive play by Wild center Victor Rask, who now has 7 points in his last 10 games.
Vegas recorded the first two shots of the period. The Wild proceeded to record 10 shots and a goal while holding Vegas to zero shots in a span of 7 minutes.
Kaapo extends his win streak
Since February 18th, Kaapo Kahkonen has been the hottest goalie in the league carrying a 7-0-0 record with a 1.42 goals-against average and .947 save percentage, allowing only 10 goals in those seven games.
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Frederic Chabot, Minnesota Wild goalie coach, has spent the last five seasons as the Wild’s AHL affiliate goalie coach who spent the last two seasons with Kaapo down in Iowa. So, the Wild’s rookie goaltender is no stranger to Mr. Chabot, as they have worked together over the years and developed a pretty tight bond as Kaapo hinted at.
Chabot was a big part of Kaapo’s success down in Iowa last season, which saw him win the AHL goaltender of the year award. So, it’s almost fitting that these two were promoted to the NHL together.
Kaapo Kahkonen is now the fastest Wild rookie to 10 wins and the only rookie goalie to win 7 in a row. Some are comparing Kaapo Kahkonen to the Wild’s all-time wins leader Niklas Backstrom who is also from Helsinki Finland like Kaapo. Kahkonen looks to be following in Backstrom’s footsteps but remember, Backstrom made his NHL debut at age 28, Kahkonen is 24.
To me, I’m not sure how you don’t keep going with Kaapo in the crease and ride this hot streak as long as you can. Plus, Kaapo deserves it. It may be a little early to tell but Kahkonen holds a 10-4 record to his name with an impressive 2.13 GAA and .924 save percentage, and may just be the Wild’s goaltender of the future.
Kahkonen will get the start again tonight versus Vegas, which will start at 6:00 pm on NBCSN.