Kaapo Kahkonen had a feeling the Wild would need him.
Although starting goalie Cam Talbot finished the first period after appearing to get stung by a shot late in the frame, Talbot was examined on the ice for a lengthy period before staying in the game.
So, during the break in between periods, Kahkonen began stretching.
"Just get the blood flowing again," he said. "Just basic stuff, try a couple jumping jacks."
The workout would end up being timely – and apparently helpful.
Not only did Kahkonen replace Talbot to begin the second, inheriting a 1-1 tie, but he was air-tight the rest of the way – helping the Wild to a 4-1 victory over the Sharks Friday at Xcel Energy Center that improved the team to 4-1 on the season.
"You get a call it's just about execution and try to get yourself warm and physically ready," said Kahkonen, who stopped all 17 shots directed his way to sit 5-1-1 in his NHL career. "It's just about being ready all the time, and you never know what can happen so you just gotta be ready."
This was Kahkonen's second straight appearance, after he was in net for a 3-2 win over the Ducks in Anaheim on Wednesday that wrapped up the California road trip, but it's unclear where his workload goes from here.
After the game, coach Dean Evason said all indications point to Talbot's situation not being serious. The team will practice Saturday before facing the Sharks again Sunday at Xcel Energy Center.
Regardless of what's next for Kahkonen, he's been proving to be a reliable option for the Wild.
"I'm confident whenever I play," he said. "It's still about the team and whoever is the starting goalie on the game days, it's his net. The other guy tries to support him. I don't want to go that far yet. I'm living day by day and game by game. Obviously, I love playing and everybody loves playing. It's great to play in the NHL, but I'll just try to go day by day."
Three Wild players recorded their first goals of the season, with empty-net finishes coming from winger Kevin Fiala and Jordan Greenway after winger Zach Parise scored the game-winner in the second period.
"It's always nice," Parise said. "Any time you get to get rid of the zeros is a good feeling. You look back at each game and you think, 'I felt good physically.' But you start to think you had an opportunity here and there, opportunities every game, so it's easy to get caught up in the numbers and stuff.
"But I've been through a lot longer droughts and a lot worse, so I guess it wasn't too big of a deal."
The goal came after a gesture of goodwill by Parise toward former teammate Devan Dubnyk before the game.
Parise's wife Alisha mentioned getting tickets for Dubnyk's family so his wife Jenn and their three sons could catch Friday's game in person. The family has remained in the Twin Cities since Dubnyk and the Sharks have been on the road from the outset of training camp due to local health regulations in San Jose.
"Luckily, there was a cancellation, so we had four pop up and I just told him that we had four tickets for him," Parise said.
Dubnyk finished with 25 saves in his first game against the Wild since the team traded him to San Jose in the offseason, and one of those stops came against a slick play by rookie Kirill Kaprizov.
After he charged to the net while fending off the Sharks' Marcus Sorensen, Kaprizov went for a between-the-legs shot that Dubnyk kept out.
"I can't believe he made that move," Dubnyk said. "That's one of those plays that you just thank God I got a piece of it because it's a nightmare when somebody makes a move that's that slick and puts it in the back of the net and then you've got 365 days to watch it over and over again on the highlights.
"Pretty impressive move and really fortunate I was able to stop that one. You just don't want to be on the receiving end of those."