The 2021-22 NHL Playoffs didn’t start the way the Minnesota Wild expected when they lost Game 1 of their season opener to the St. Louis Blues, 4-0. Luckily, the Wild didn’t let defeat get the better of them as they bounced back with a 6-2 victory in Game 2, led by Kirill Kaprizov as he scored the first postseason hat trick not only of his career but also of the history of the franchise.
There is no doubt that Kaprizov’s trio of goals will be remembered by Wild fans for the foreseeable future, but where did it come from? his performance in game 2 against the Blues’ standings when it comes to the franchise’s other playoff games? To that end, here’s a look at some of the best single-player performances in franchise history, taking into account factors like setting and series score.
Honorable Mention: RAdm Talbot — May 16, 2021
As with any list, it’s difficult to narrow down the selection. That’s why it was important to mention again Cam Talbot’s tremendous performance in Game 1 of the 2020-21 playoff series between the Wild and the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Wild entered the playoffs as the No. 3 team in the West Division after the COVID-shortened campaign, while the Golden Knights were favorites to win the series after finishing seven points ahead of their counterparts. Both teams boasted talented offenses, but it was a goalie duel that stole the show in the series opener.
Talbot stopped all 42 shots he faced that night before Joel Eriksson Ek won the game for the Wild in overtime, 1-0. Talbot’s 42 saves are the most in a playoff shutout by any Wild goaltender in franchise history, which is why it’s always a performance to be remembered with. tenderness even though she could have finished higher on the list if Minnesota had won the series.
4. Kirill Kaprizov — May 4, 2022
Once the 2021-22 NHL Playoffs began, fans wondered if Kaprizov could maintain his impressive offensive pace after racking up 47 goals and 108 points in 81 regular season games. As previously mentioned, the Blues’ Game 1 shutout wasn’t the result they were hoping for, which led to the dynamic Russian taking matters into his own hands in Game 2.
Kaprizov’s first playoff scorer came as the Wild were on the power play with less than a minute left in the first period. He ended up blocking at home a wrist shot from Mats Zuccarello from the point, giving his team a 3-0 lead in the process. The Blues drew things closer as the score was 4-2 with just over eight minutes left in the third period. Luckily, a 2-on-1 run between Zuccarello and Kaprizov resulted in the latter’s second goal of the game before eventually adding an empty-net goal for the first hat trick in Wild playoff history.
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Kaprizov’s performance was a major part of the show’s Wild night and will be a memory that fans will relive for a long time. However, there’s still a lot of the series to play out, so time will tell how important his hat trick was in the grand scheme of things.
3. Nino Niederreiter — April 30, 2014
When the Wild acquired Nino Niederreiter from the New York Islanders in July 2013, the hope was that he could one day become an impact player. Fortunately, the former fifth overall pick in 2010 was quick to make his mark in Minnesota, becoming a playoff hero in his first season with the franchise.
The Wild tied the first round with the Central Division-leading Colorado Avalanche in the 2013-14 playoffs. The Avalanche proved to be a tough task taking the series lead 2-0 to start, but the Wild eventually managed to even things up and force a Game 7. Both teams were tied in the contest decisive of the series, needing extra time to resolve things after being tied 4-4 at the end of regulation.
Niederreiter had already scored his first playoff goal earlier in the game and also had an assist on Jared Spurgeon’s tying scorer in the third period. He finally assumed the overtime role just over five minutes into the extra period when he held the puck on a 2-on-1 with Kyle Brodziak, beating Semyon Varlamov to give the Wild the victory of the series 4-3.
Niederreiter’s game-winning goal in overtime is memorable as it’s only the third time in franchise history that the Wild have won a playoff series. It also cemented him as a player that the fan base hoped management could build for years to come, although he was eventually traded in a deal that many wished the Wild could resume. Even if it is, it doesn’t change the fact thatNiederreiter’s three-point effort is one that will be fondly remembered for years to come.
2. Zach Parise—April 28, 2014
Although a decline in play and an expensive contract led to his removal from the “state of hockey”, Wild fans will never forget Zach Parise’s contributions to the franchise. This statement is especially true when it comes to his performance in the 2013-14 playoffs. In reality,Niederreiter wouldn’t have had the opportunity to play the playoff savior had it not been for Parise’s efforts two nights prior.
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The Wild entered Game 6 of their 2013-14 series against the Avalanche, trailing 3-2 after a heartbreaking overtime loss in the previous game. It didn’t take long for Parise to lead by example in Game 6, giving Minnesota a 1-0 power-play lead just 49 seconds into the game. The former Wild alternate captain helped make it 2-0 by being the secondary assist on Mikael Granlund’s goal in the first period before the Avalanche eventually tied it 2-2 at the end of the second period .
Some teams may have crumbled under the pressure of a missed lead, but not Parise and the Wild. The Minneapolis, MN native restored the lead with his second goal of the game at 1:31 into the third period before adding another secondary assist on Jason Pominville’s goal that made it 4-2 with less than 90 seconds to play. At the end of the game, Minnesota had won 5-2forcing the aforementioned Game 7.
Parise’s four-point performance in Game 6 is notable for several reasons. For starters, it’s still the only four-point playoff night in Wild history. Second, the club probably would have been eliminated by the Avalanche if he hadn’t put the team on their backs that game.
1. Manny Fernandez—April 22, 2003
The best single-game playoff performance in Wild history came from goaltender Manny Fernandez in the 2002-03 NHL season. This actually happened in the organization’s first-ever playoff series as the Wild faced the Avalanche in the first round in what was the premier’s first-ever playoff series.
Dwayne Roloson opened the series as the Wild’s starting goalie, but plans quickly changed after the team lost 3-1 after the first four games. The Wild clearly found a new found confidence with Fernandez between the pipes, which led them to back-to-back wins to force a Game 7. Although Andrew Brunette eventually scored the game-winning goal to give his side their first victory in playoffs, it was Fernandez’s performance that drew a lot of attention.
The Wild have special playoff training, and Kaprizov has already proven that with his hat-trick against the Blues in Game 2. All eyes will be on him and the rest of the club to see if anyone another is capable of having a performance. worthy of landing them on an updated version of this list someday.
As a lifelong hockey fan and recent graduate of a Masters in Journalism, it has always been my dream to write about the sport. That’s why you can find me here on THW covering the Minnesota Wild! You can also see my work on FanDuel, the Ottawa Citizen and various sports betting sites. Follow me on Twitter @devplat!