Eriksson Ek gets 2 goals as Wild chase Fleury, top Vegas 4-3
By DAVE CAMPBELL AP Sports Writer
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Joel Eriksson Ek had his second career two-goal game and Kirill Kaprizov scored for Minnesota’s league-worst power play, leading the Wild to a 4-3 victory over the West Division-leading Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday night.
Kaapo Kahkonen stopped 24 shots to win his eighth consecutive start for Minnesota, extending his franchise rookie record despite surrendering a hat trick to Dylan Coghlan for the first three goals of his career. Coghlan scored with 6 minutes left and then with the extra attacker with 2:10 remaining.
Carson Soucy scored Minnesota’s third goal of the third period during a rare stumble by Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who stopped 25 shots before being pulled for Logan Thompson’s NHL debut about halfway through the final frame. Fleury entered the night ranked third in the league in both goals-against average and save percentage.
Eriksson Ek scored 19 seconds into the game after intercepting a clearing attempt, but Coghlan answered with his first career goal only 83 seconds later.
The tie lasted until Kaprizov padded his NHL rookie points lead early in the third, 25 seconds after Nicolas Hague was called for hooking on Mats Zuccarello. After Fleury denied a slap shot by Zuccarello and Nick Bjugstad kept alive the rebound, Kaprizov knocked in the puck for his seventh goal of the season.
The 23-year-old Russian dropped to one knee, pumped his arm and banged his shoulder against the glass to celebrate the end of an eight-game, 0-for-20 slide by his team’s power play. Kaprizov has 20 points in 24 games for the Wild, whose last power-play goal was on Feb. 22 at San Jose. They are 2 for 29 at home this season.
The Wild (15-8-1), who beat the Golden Knights (16-6-1) here on Monday, are two points behind them with St. Louis (15-8-4) in between. Minnesota is 9-2-1 in its last 12 games.
BUMPS AND BRUISES
The Golden Knights welcomed defenseman Brayden McNabb (lower body, 15 games) and team points leader Mark Stone (undisclosed, one game) from their injury absences. McNabb made his presence felt early — and painfully, for Wild right wing Kyle Rau — with a flattening check in front of the bench area that sent Rau up the tunnel for medical evaluation. He returned, as did Kaprizov after being hit by an airborne puck on the side of the head.
Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was sent back to Nevada for evaluation of his upper-body injury, stemming from a blocked shot on Saturday, which coach Pete DeBoer called “not a great sign.”
Golden Knights: Travel to St. Louis for a two-game set against the Blues on Friday and Saturday. That means Pietrangelo, who signed a seven-year, $61.6 million contract with Vegas prior to the season, likely will miss his first opportunity to face his former team.
Wild: Stay home for three straight games against the Arizona Coyotes, starting on Friday.
More AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL