A victory coordinated by Kaapo Kahkonen, Kirill Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek might have looked postmarked for a future date, such as a Wild game in another five years when all three are in the primes of their careers.
But the 25-and-under crowd on the Wild isn't waiting to take over the team. They're doing it now.
"It's good to have our younger guys playing with confidence," defenseman Carson Soucy said.
Kahkonen won his eighth consecutive game — the longest run by an NHL goalie this season — Kaprizov lifted the Wild out of its power play slump and Eriksson Ek scored twice.
Add in an insurance goal-turned-game-winner by the 26-year-old Soucy after the Golden Knights initiated a photo finish, and the Wild held on 4-3 Wednesday night at Xcel Energy Center to climb only two points back of No. 1 Vegas in the West Division after its two-game sweep.
"We can't let off the gas here," center Nick Bjugstad said. "We have to keep going."
Not only has Kahkonen tied Josh Harding for the second-most wins in a Wild season by a rookie goalie (11), but he's also two victories shy of matching the franchise record for longest win streak held by Devan Dubnyk (10-0 from Dec. 4-29, 2016). Kahkonen's 8-0 stretch is already the franchise record for a rookie. He has a 1.62 goals-against average and .940 save percentage over those eight starts.
"It's been a fun time," Kahkonen said. "Winning is always fun."
Eriksson Ek's first goal came on the Wild's first shot, a turnover by Shea Theodore that the center deposited behind Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury only 19 seconds after puck drop.
But only 1:23 later, the Golden Knights retaliated on a shot through traffic by Dylan Coghlan for Coghlan's first NHL goal.
What ensued next was a slugfest, a much grittier battle than the 2-0 grind that played out Monday when Kahkonen recorded his first career shutout.
Brayden McNabb checked Kyle Rau to the ice in the first period, Kaprizov exited the action briefly after taking a puck to the face and Bjugstad was also upended with a heavy hit from Chandler Stephenson to end the second period.
The physicality, however, didn't seem to slow down the Wild, with the team pulling ahead on its second power play. After a Bjugstad faceoff win, Kaprizov's backhander off a Mats Zuccarello rebound sailed in at 1:18 of the third period.
That was the team's first power-play goal in 21 chances, improving the team to 6-for-76 on the season; Vegas went 0-for-2.
"I was trying to dig deep on those faceoffs, trying to get possession so we're not wasting time on a breakout," Bjugstad said, "and those guys just kind of did the work."
The Wild chased Fleury from the game in the third after Eriksson Ek cleaned up his own rebound at 5:54 and then Soucy converted on a one-timer at 7:41 to continue his strong return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch over the weekend. Fleury exited with 25 saves, and Logan Thompson made two stops in relief in his NHL debut.
With a team-leading 10 goals through 24 games, Eriksson Ek has set a career high — surpassing the eight he scored last season in 62 games.
"I saw [Fleury] didn't really know where the puck was," Eriksson Ek said. "I drove down on him and just tried to get my stick in on it."
Offsetting unsportsmanlike conducts penalties to Soucy and Keegan Kolesar, a call the Wild disagreed with, paved the way for the Golden Knights to eat into their deficit.
While play was 4-on-4, Coghlan scored his second with six minutes left before completing the hat trick at 17:50 when Thompson was pulled for an extra attacker.
But the close result wasn't indicative of the Wild's performance, one that could continue to be a blueprint for years to come considering who were the catalysts.
"We're a really good team," Kahkonen said, "and if we just keep doing the right things, we're going to be successful."