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Apr 1, 2024 7:25 pm

Desperate Wild taking risks for points; surging Senators up next

Kirill Kaprizov

The Minnesota Wild have begun applying unconventional math in a desperate bid to see if it adds up to securing a playoff berth.

The Wild remain in search of a critical two points on Tuesday when they continue their six-game homestand against the surging Ottawa Senators in Saint Paul, Minn.

The Wild (35-28-10, 79 points), who are 1-0-2 to begin the stretch at home, reside eight points in back of the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference entering play on Monday.

Minnesota forfeited the additional point for reaching overtime by pulling its goalie for an extra attacker in the bonus session on Saturday. The unconventional move didn’t bear fruit, however, as the Vegas Golden Knights scored an empty-net goal to claim a 2-1 victory over the Wild.

“Where we’re at in the standings and where it goes, you’re trying to put your team in the best position to win the hockey game,” Wild coach John Hynes said. “And in our opinion, putting Kirill Kaprizov, (Mats) Zuccarello, (Joel Eriksson) Ek and (Matt) Boldy against three players on the ice gives us the best chance to win a game.

“When you look at our situation, we have to win games and get two points, and we have to get help from other teams. So, the decision was made to give the team the best chance to win the hockey game.”

Goaltender Filip Gustavsson had no qualms with being removed from the ice for an extra attacker.

“I don’t think we would have been happy with one point, either,” Gustavsson said, per the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “So, it was all or nothing.”

Kaprizov scored his team-leading 37th goal late in the second period. He has 19 points (11 goals, eight assists) in his last 12 games. However, he was held off the scoresheet in Minnesota’s 2-1 shootout loss to Ottawa on Nov. 18 in the NHL’s Global Series in Stockholm, Sweden.

Winners of five in a row and eight of their last 11 games, the Senators (33-36-4, 70 points) will look to put the Wild’s faint postseason aspirations on life support Tuesday.

Captain Brady Tkachuk scored a power-play goal with 1:45 remaining in the third period in Ottawa’s 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

“I think it’s just the little things that everyone’s been doing, and you see the results that we’ve had,” said Tkachuk, who has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in his last nine games.

“We’ve got to keep building, keep finishing strong and keep building on our momentum. … It’s been fun. We’ve got to keep building, keep working and hopefully, this is one of many down the stretch and in the future.”

Ridly Greig and Boris Katchouk also scored on Saturday, and Joonas Korpisalo turned aside 28 shots for the Senators.

“We are having fun, for sure,” Korpisalo said. “I feel good. As a whole team, we are on top of the league right now. And obviously, it helps everybody, individually.”

Minnesota will be without forward Ryan Hartman, whom the league suspended on Monday for three games without pay for throwing his stick toward officials after the overtime loss to Vegas.

Hartman apparently was upset that Vegas defenseman Noah Hanifin was not penalized for high-sticking him late in the third period. He received a 10-minute game misconduct penalty for using abusive language.

–Field Level Media

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