Kaprizov creeps closer to Gaborik’s single-season Wild points record

Marc-Andre Fleury has played with a lot of great players over the course of an 18-year NHL career, most notably Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin when they were all together in Pittsburgh.

Fleury was there when the high-scoring forwards joined the Penguins in 2005 and 2006, respectively, and he has another exciting young teammate in Minnesota’s second-year winger Kirill Kaprizov.

Kaprizov, 24, scored two big goals in Fleury’s first Wild start, and victory, on Saturday against Columbus at Xcel Energy Center. His second came with Fleury out for an extra attacker, a snipe into the near corner with 1:03 remaining to tie the game 2-2 and send the game into overtime.

Jared Spurgeon won it with a breakaway goal 1:24 into OT.

After the game, Fleury, 37, was asked where Kaprizov might rank among the great forwards he has played with and against.

“I don’t have a ranking for you,” he said. “He’s a special player, that’s for sure.”

As the regular season winds down, Kaprizov is being compared to the player widely regarded as the best to put on a Wild sweater, Marian Gaborik. His power-play goal in a 3-2 victory over Colorado on Sunday moved him two points from tying Gaborik’s single-season points record of 83 set in 2007-08.

“Obviously, I hear about it; people talk about it in the locker room,” Kaprizov said Sunday through an interpreter. “To me, personally, it’s not something I focus on. It’s not something I think about. If I beat it, great. I’d be very happy and honored to do that.”

Kaprizov is just the second Wild player to reach 80 points in a season, and the third with at least 35 goals, joining Gaborik and Eric Staal, who are tied for the single-season record with 42. He’s not as fast as Gaborik was in his prime, but Kaprizov is a more creative scorer and does a few things for which Gaborik was never known, most notably finishing checks and fighting through traffic.

“He just works,” defenseman and captain Jared Spurgeon said. “It’s not like he’s staying on the outside; he engages with everything, and that leads into our team as well when a guy with that skill is also doing the dirty work.”

After scoring in Sunday’s 3-2 overtime victory over Colorado, Kaprizov has 13 goals and 19 points in his past 15 games and has 18 games to get three points.

“For the most part,” Kaprizov said, “I’m focused on the game, doing the best I can and getting wins. If I do that, and our team wins, everything will kind of work out. It would be a great accomplishment.”


Of Cam Talbot’s 40 saves on Sunday, none was bigger than a rare two-on-none. With the Wild on a power play.

A poke check at the blue line from Logan O’Connor, and maybe an uncalled hook, sent the Colorado wing and a teammate alone to the net for a rare short-handed rush. But Talbot blocked O’Connor’s shot to keep the Wild within 2-1 in the third period.

“I knew that our guys were going to come back as quick as they could, like they always do, and just focused on that shooter, and battled up from there if he makes that pass across,” Talbot said. “My main focus is the guy with the puck, and (my teammates) did a great job taking away the secondary option.”


The Wild improved to 1-2 against Central-leading Colorado this season. They meet again April 29 in the season finale for both teams.

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