Kirill Kaprizov has previously had slow starts to a season during his hockey career.
But the Minnesota Wild’s second-year forward added:
“Then I build momentum and the goals and everything else comes.”
Still, a scoreless stretch through nine games of the NHL schedule this season began to get to him just a bit.
“I was focused on it after the second or third game having not scored,” Kaprizov said during a media availability session after a team practice on Thursday.
That scoring drought came to an end on Tuesday night. Kaprizov one-timed a feed from Kevin Fiala on a two-on-one break for the winning goal in overtime as the Wild edged the Ottawa Senators at the Xcel Energy Center.
His reaction to the goal?
“Very happy,” Kaprizov said. “If feels like a lot of relief to finally get one in. The game flows a lot better once you get the first (goal).”
Maybe this will help him build momentum like in some of those previous seasons he alluded to.
The hope is that it is the start of a scoring binge for Kaprizov, who picked up his seventh assist of the season against the Sens as well. He will get his first opportunity on Saturday in Pittsburgh as the Wild play the first of back-to-back games over the weekend.
Minnesota then returns to St. Paul on Sunday to face the New York Islanders and former teammate Zach Parise for the first time this year.
“I think obviously this gives me a little bit of confidence to not think about scoring,” Kaprizov said. “Just play the game and the goals will come if you play well. That’s where I need to focus.”
Seems like words of wisdom that a coach might pass on to a player. But it seems that didn’t happen in this case. Or at least much with Kaprizov being his biggest critic.
“(The Wild coaches) knew I was hard on myself and that I was already overthinking it,” Kaprizov said. “So they tried not to say much and let me go.”
But it sounds like Kaprizov would be open to other’s input. Michael Russo of the The Athletic also wrote about Mike Modano’s words that were passed along to Kaprizov early in the season.
“Like we would say in Russia, ‘Sometimes I do need a kick in the ass to get going.’,” Kaprizov said with a laugh.
“So I wouldn’t mind it.”