Devils can't overcome three-goal deficit, fall to Wild, 5-2

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Devils Michael McLeod goes for puck vs Wild
Devils Michael McLeod goes for puck vs Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Kirill Kaprizov had two goals and an assist as the Minnesota Wild kept rolling with a 5-2 win against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.

Ryan Hartman had a goal and two assists, and Rem Pitlick and Dmitry Kulikov also scored for Minnesota, which has won five games in a row and is the NHL’s highest-scoring team since Nov. 2 with 64 goals in 15 games.

Kaapo Kahkonen made his second straight start in net for the Wild and finished with 29 saves.

Ryan Graves and Tomas Tatar scored for New Jersey. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 33 shots.

With Hartman’s surprising breakout and Kaprizov on a scoring tear in his second NHL season after winning the Calder Memorial Trophy, Minnesota is no longer the defensive-minded team of the past. The Wild entered the day fourth in the league in goals per game and have scored at least four in 12 of the past 15.

Minnesota’s 33 points are the best start in franchise history after 23 games.

All four lines have contributed to the inflated goal totals, none more so than Kaprizov and Hartman’s pairing, which saw the return of Mats Zuccarello on the right side Thursday. Zuccarello missed two games with a hand injury.

Kaprizov started the scoring against the Devils midway through the first period as he got the corner on Graves and drove the net. Controlling the puck on his backhand, he quickly switched to his forehand and beat Blackwood.

The 24-year-old Russian added his eighth goal of the season 2:28 into the second to give Minnesota a 3-0 lead. Kaprizov has six goals and 11 assists in his past eight games.

Pitlick, a rookie claimed off waivers from Nashville in October, scored his fifth goal in the first. He entered play tied for eighth among rookies in scoring.

The Devils, who have lost three of four, got back within reach with two goals in the second to make it 3-2.

Graves scored his second of the season, on a big slap shot from the point, just 24 seconds after Kaprizov’s second goal. Tatar scored for the fourth time in six games on a breakaway as Dougie Hamilton passed ahead to spring him.

Hamilton had two assists in the game.

Kulikov, the former Devil, restored Minnesota’s two-goal advantage with his second of the season in the second. Hartman added his 13th goal in the third.

COVID-19 PROTOCOL

New Jersey announced that goaltending coach Dave Rogalski was placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. Minnesota forward Frederick Gaudreau missed his second game while in the COVID-19 protocol.

UP NEXT

Devils: Play their second game of a back-to-back Friday in Winnipeg.

Wild: Finish their five-game homestand Saturday against Toronto.