Every time he’s on the ice, it’s nearly impossible to take your eyes off Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov. It doesn’t matter if he’s skating circles around defenders or simply navigating a zone exit – every stride shows why he’s such a special player. And in the first period of Tuesday night’s Game 5 against the St. Louis Blues, it was his shot that had the hockey world in awe:
Kaprizov scored a pair of power-play goals just four minutes apart on Tuesday, making Minnesota hockey history in the process. His first goal of the night saw him set a new franchise record for the most goals in a single series.
Kaprizov has wasted no time setting multiple franchise records since joining the Wild as a rookie last season. This year saw him set new team standards for goals (47), assists (61), and points (108) in a single season. He also now currently holds the league lead in goals this post-season.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, Kaprizov’s pair of first-period goals were the only pucks anyone could manage to put past Blues netminder Jordan Binnington, whose 30-save performance backstopped St. Louis to a 5-2 victory and a 3-2 series lead.
Kaprizov owned the first period against the Blues, but the third frame – and as a result, the whole game – belonged to Vladimir Tarasenko. With the game tied 2-2 after two, Tarasenko took matters into his own hands early in the third period with two goals in 68 seconds, followed by a third to seal the victory and his second career playoff hat trick.
The Blues have an opportunity to eliminate the Wild on Thursday night.
FIRST OVERALL PICKS DAZZLE ON DRAFT LOTTERY NIGHT
On the night when the first overall selection for the upcoming 2022 NHL Draft took centre stage as 16 non-playoff teams tried their lottery luck, it was only fitting that we should see some previous No. 1 overall picks shine in the post-season spotlight.
Game 5 between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs featured a trio of first overall picks, and all three were at their best Tuesday night.
First, 2008 top pick Steven Stamkos opened the scoring five minutes into Game 5 against the Leafs, the first of two Lightning goals scored in the span of less than a minute.
Then, John Tavares (2009) got the Maple Leafs on the board early in the second before assisting on the game-tying goal early in the third to spark some life in the Leafs.
And the game-winner? That was scored by 2016 lottery pick Auston Matthews, who made it 4-3 to secure the Game 5 victory and gain a 3-2 series lead.
Three other first-overall picks suited up Tuesday night: Taylor Hall (2010) assisted on Boston’s lone Game 5 goal in a losing effort against Carolina; Marc-Andre Fleury (2003) made 27 saves against the Blues but ultimately lost the match; and as for 2015 lottery pick Connor McDavid…? The Edmonton Oilers star put on a highlight-reel show seemingly on-demand in the third period to jump-start a remarkable comeback to push for overtime in the eventual Game 5 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
BRIND’AMOUR’S BELIEF REWARDED WITH REBOUND WIN
Momentum can be a slippery thing in the playoffs – just ask the Boston Bruins. They did everything right in Sunday’s Game 4 to even up the series at home, delivering a demoralizing blow to Carolina that had the Hurricanes looking like a fractured squad.
Would we see lineup changes? Surely, head coach Rod Brind’Amour would make some alterations to avoid a similar fate in Tuesday’s Game 5.
Nope. The bench boss stood his ground, goalie and all, and played the same lineup with very different results. The team we saw hit the ice in Carolina on Tuesday night looked like the club we should’ve seen two days ago: Hard-pressing offence, punishing defence, and – perhaps most importantly – keeping their emotions in check and staying out of the penalty box. Carolina took just three penalties on this night (compared to nine Sunday) and didn’t give up any shorthanded goals.
This series now heads back to Boston, and if the first five games are any indication perhaps we should brace for a Bruins win – after all, the home team has won all five games of this series so far.
JARVIS GETS THE GOOD BOUNCES THIS TIME
There are gorgeous goals, there are ugly goals, and then there’s this goal, credited to Seth Jarvis to give the Hurricanes a 3-0 lead late in the second period of Tuesday’s Game 5 against the Bruins:
You know what they say: “They don’t ask how, they just ask how many…”
Only, in this case, we really are asking how that puck went in – and Jarvis, too, was clearly confounded by the bounces.
“I don’t know,” he said with a laugh when asked to describe the marker post-game. “A lot of things had to go right for that to even happen.”
He said he was actually trying to make a pass, but that instead, “yeah, I think the d-man shot my stick, with the puck on my stick, went off someone’s foot, alley-ooped over the goalie into the corner … I’ll take that any day of the week.”
Jarvis also opened the third-period scoring to make it 4-0 with a power-play marker that once again wasn’t built for the highlight reel but definitely showed why he so quickly became a fan favourite in Carolina this year.
Jarvis, 20, now has three goals in his rookie playoff campaign.
When you think about it, the Puck Luck Gods kind of owed Jarvis these good bounces after the, uh, not so friendly bounce he took in Game 4.