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Wild’s dynamic duo set for Capitals

Sportsnaut
Apr 2, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA;  Minnesota Wild left wing Kirill Kaprizov (97) is congratulated after his goal by right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild will aim to extend the NHL’s longest active point streak to 10 games on Sunday night when they visit the Washington Capitals.

The Wild (42-20-5, 89 points), however, will have little time to savor their 3-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.

Conversely, the Capitals (37-21-10, 84 points) have had nothing but time on their hands since losing 6-1 to the Hurricanes on Monday.

Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello each collected a goal and an assist Saturday as Minnesota improved to 8-0-1 in its past nine games.

Kaprizov, the reigning Calder Memorial Trophy recipient, extend his goal-scoring streak to six games en route to capturing the Wild’s franchise single-season points record with 85. The 24-year-old Russian set up Zuccarello with the man advantage in the first period before scoring his team-leading 39th goal in the third.

“They obviously have more than just chemistry on the ice,” Minnesota coach Dean Evason said of Kaprizov and Zuccarello. “… Zuccy is a big part of our veteran core, and obviously Kirill is a great teammate. I think it goes a long way when you have your higher-end offensive guys buying in and being good teammates. It goes a long way for your team.”

Zuccarello, who has a club-best 49 assists, scored the tying goal with 34.7 seconds remaining in regulation of Minnesota’s 3-2 shootout win over Washington on Jan. 8.

The Wild have had their way with Eastern Conference representatives this season. Their 21-5-4 record vs. Eastern foes serves as a franchise best in both wins and points.

As for the Capitals, Tom Wilson scored his team’s lone goal Monday to extend his point streak to five games (three goals, three assists).

Evgeny Kuznetsov saw his 12-game point streak end against Carolina. The 29-year-old Russian scored a goal in the previous meeting with the Wild.

Washington has dropped three of its past four games at home at Capital One Arena.

“We’ve talked about it a lot. You want to be good at home. It’s important to be good at home; it’s why guys play for home-ice advantage,” Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway said. “It’s one of those (things) that I can’t put my finger on it. But I know how hard we go into games on the road. I know the mentality we have; we play faster. So it’s (about) getting that mindset of being able to do it in Cap One in front of our fans, because it’s not acceptable, not doing it.”

Lars Eller hasn’t been thrilled with his play of late. He has been held off the scoresheet in all five games since his return to the lineup after testing positive for COVID-19.

“It comes down to what are you doing out there myself,” Eller said, per The Washington Post. “I always try to point the finger at myself, look at myself and see what I can do to make the people around me better.”

–Field Level Media