Extravaganza Kaprizova

On the night of February 20, one of the most amazing meetings of the regular season took place in the NHL. Yes, after the All-Star Game, the teams relaxed a little and increased their performance, which was confirmed by two confrontations that ended with a score of 9:2. But this cannot be compared with what happened at Excel Energy Arena, where a total of 17 goals were scored. And one of the main characters of this performance was a Russian, who until now has been repeatedly criticized for not the brightest season.

Over the past two years, Kirill Kaprizov has earned the status of a full-fledged NHL star and managed not only to become one of seven domestic hockey players to score a hundred, but also to set a number of Minnesota records. In this regard, it has become the norm to expect miracles from him, but in this competitive year he could not please with such. Kirill averaged 1.09 points per game and was only in 38th place in the league's scoring race.

The incredible happened in a home match with the NHL leader and the main contender for the President's Cup, Vancouver. Although at first there was no talk of anything like that. The guests took the lead already in the third minute, and at the end of the first period they were leading 2:1, giving up the slack only 50 seconds before the break. The hosts organized a devastating counterattack, and the protagonists were Kirill Kaprizov, Matt Boldy and Joel Eriksson Ek. The Russian found the American with a gorgeous long pass, and he passed it without looking at the Swede, who had stopped at a nickel. All he had to do was not to miss.

However, this small success did not change the position of power on the ice. The Canucks continued to dominate and after the second 20 minutes they led by a more comfortable margin. First, Elias Pettersson scored, and then JT Miller scored a hat-trick, thanks to which he came closer to Artemy Panarin in the scorer race (and subsequently caught up). The Wild responded to this with only two accurate hits. Moreover, in both cases the same Eriksson Ek acted as an assistant, and Kaprizov was also involved in the second. It was he who passed the ball to Mats Zuccarello, who, as a veteran, took on the role of a sniper during the power play.

Thus, nothing foreshadowed the extravaganza. Vancouver led by two goals and was about to comfortably win for the fourth time in nine days. But in the final period something fantastic happened. In the first 5 minutes 45 seconds, Minnesota upset the opposing goalkeeper five times and set a record for the fastest rate of fire in the 21st century, and scored seven times in total. Nothing like this had happened before in the history of the team, and the third period of the confrontation with Dallas in 2015 was considered the most productive. Then the Wild also rallied at a key moment and sent six goals to the Stars at once.

As a result, Minnesota hit the Vancouver goal ten times at once, conceding seven in response. Nikita Zadorov and Brock Boeser made the failure a little less humiliating. The hosts were dominated by Kaprizov and Eriksson Ek, who scored six points in total. This allowed them to become the first partner duo since October 1993 to boast such productivity. Then Los Angeles forwards Wayne Gretzky and Thomas Sandström succeeded.

But while the Swede scored his points more evenly, the Russian made a real spurt in the last 20 minutes. And he repeated Minnesota’s records for both goals (three) and points (four) in one period. Until now, the first one belonged to Kevin Fiala, and the second one belonged to Zach Parise and Jason Zucker. He also became only the third Russian in history to score six points in a match. Previously, only Sergei Makarov and Nikita Kucherov were pleased with such a rate of fire, and the Tampa Bay striker kept the legend company during the current regular season. By the way, in the history of the Wild, this level was only achieved by Marian Gaborik.

Yes, Kaprizov was not noted for his masterpieces of sniper art. In the first case, he lurked in the right throw-in circle instead of participating in a fierce chopping on the spot, after which he hit the goalkeeper with a touch. In the second, he rolled onto the goal in a timely manner and “shot” poor Casey Desmith on touch. And then, 1.9 seconds before the end, he hit the empty target.

But despite these achievements, Kaprizov was recognized as only the second star of the confrontation, behind the same Eriksson Ek, and was not included in the list of the main heroes of the day at all. Although the same Swede again took first position. But he noticeably improved his position in the scorers’ race, immediately moving up 15 positions. Now Kirill has 57 (23 + 34) points and shares 23rd place with Matthew Barzal from the Islanders.

The end of Kucherov's streak and Tarasenko's 15th goal

In turn, the leader of the race for the Art Ross Trophy was unable to extend his winning streak of ten meetings. In the confrontation with Ottawa, Nikita Kucherov did not score a goal or assist, and Tampa Bay suffered a second defeat in a row. Two days ago, it was defeated by Florida in the derby (2:9).

This time, the Lightning scored twice again, but conceded significantly fewer goals. The Senators limited themselves to four accurate hits, three of which were scored by the Russians. Artem Zub alternately assisted Tim Stützle and Matthew Joseph, and Vladimir Tarasenko confidently worked on the finish after Brady Tkachuk’s “shot”. And for the eighth time he reached the mark of 15 goals for the season, simultaneously spoiling the statistics of Andrei Vasilevsky. Although he repelled 24 shots, he again did not reach the grandmaster bar of 90% of saves (85.7%).

Tarasenko’s former partner in St. Louis also scored another goal. 68 seconds before the final siren, Pavel Buchnevich substituted his stick for Tory Krug's click and brought back the intrigue into the meeting with Toronto, but the hosts at least failed to send it into overtime. In the end, the guests hit the empty target and won their fourth victory in a row (4:2).

“Carolina” also extended its successful streak, defeating “Chicago” on its ice (6:3). And Russian legionnaires also contributed to this. Unlike Pyotr Kochetkov, Dmitry Orlov and Andrey Svechnikov did not rest and took credit for the transfer. The first brought Jesperi Kotkaniemi into the shooting position with a spectacular cross pass, and the second brought Sebastian Aho into the shooting position. As a result, the Finn with two was recognized as the first star.