The Golden Knights have the second-best record in the NHL, a future Hall of Famer in net and a unique home-ice advantage nestled on the Las Vegas Strip.
But that's the team Wild forward Marcus Foligno would like to face when the playoffs start.
"Absolutely," Foligno said.
Despite all Vegas has going for it — which also includes a seat atop the West Division — the Golden Knights haven't been able to completely figure out the Wild, even needing overtime Wednesday night to outlast its budding rival 3-2 in front of 3,000 at Xcel Energy Center after the Wild staged another third-period rally on the heels of a chippy start.
"That was a hard-fought game, playoff-type game," winger Ryan Hartman said. "We're still trying to climb the leaderboard here, and they're trying to stay up there. If we'd have won in regulation, we're two points behind them there. That's a game we wanted to win, and clearly they wanted to as well. So it was a battle."
Rookie Kirill Kaprizov scored twice in 2 minutes, 10 seconds to flip a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead, the fourth consecutive game the team has come from behind in the third period.
"He gave us that extra pop when we needed it," Foligno said.
But after a hooking penalty against Mats Zuccarello that Foligno called "a joke," the Golden Knights pulled even on a Reilly Smith power-play goal with 4:16 to go in regulation before Alex Pietrangelo wired the puck by goalie Cam Talbot 1:53 into the extra session to wrap the regular-season series 5-1-2 in the Wild's favor.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves for his 490th career victory, moving into sole possession of third place on the NHL's career wins list. Cam Talbot had 31 saves. The Wild went 0-for-3 on the power play, while Vegas was 1-for-3.
"It was an incredible game," Wild coach Dean Evason said. "It had everything in it. You got a regular-season game that is the playoff feel, that's it."
Although the Golden Knights snagged the additional point, putting five between them and the No. 3 Wild, the finish didn't overshadow Kaprizov's impressive effort.
The rookie batted the puck past Fleury at 11:13, then pounced on a loose puck off a faceoff at 13:23 for his team-leading 26th goal, the Wild's response after Vegas opened the scoring on a 2-on-1 shot by Chandler Stephenson 8:30 into the second.
This was Kaprizov's fourth multi-goal game of the season, and he extended his point streak to four games — a run in which he has four goals and two assists. The first goal was Kaprizov's third game-tying goal in his past four games, clutch contributions from a player who already has a knack for delivering in the make-or-break moments.
"He's been unbelievable all year," Foligno said. "Those guys find a way to get loose and hold onto pucks that extra second and find that scoring lane."
Aside from scoring, Kaprizov also made an impression physically — accosting Vegas after he was leveled from behind into the boards by Nicolas Hague, a hit that touched off a line brawl.
"People get surprised when it's the goal scorer or skilled guy that sticks his nose in there," Evason said. "Why wouldn't he? Everyone should do it. He stands up for himself. He stands up for his teammates. There was a race to get to their guy that hit him from our group. There's no question that we're a team. We stick together."
Foligno and Jordan Greenway immediately went after Hague, who emerged with blood splattered on his jersey, and Kaprizov got into a scuffle with Zach Whitecloud.
"It's just protecting the player, a star player," said Foligno, who later fought Hague in the period. "That's all that was."
Before the first ended, Hartman and Brayden McNabb stoked another confrontation when they got into a shoving match that resulted in a bloody nose for Hartman.
The animosity between the teams made the game feel like the playoffs, and the next time they run into each other, that might actually be the case.
"Absolutely," Foligno said. "We'd love to see these guys again."