SEATTLE – Rem Pitlick didn't play during the Wild's inaugural game against the Kraken.
He was sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19 a day before the Oct.28 puck drop, an absence that lasted until a week ago.
"I had a small little window in my hotel room to get some fresh air," said Pitlick, who was asymptomatic. "For four days I couldn't go outside. [But] I had a nice view from the hotel."
Pitlick's second trip to Seattle was also notable but for a different reason.
The Wild newcomer scored a natural hat trick, including his first NHL goal, in a 4-2 win on Saturday in front of 17,151 at Climate Pledge Arena that wrapped the team's road trip with two victories out of three games.
"It's hard to put into words," Pitlick said. "I'm trying to take it all in. Obviously, super exciting to get the first one and then like three, I don't know. I'm just super grateful."
Overall, the Wild is 5-1 over its past six contests. The team's 20 points from 10 wins are tied for the most through 14 games in team history. And the Wild's six road victories are tops in the NHL.
"We really liked our grit, our business-like attitude, but our grit was really good in this hockey game," coach Dean Evason said.
Goaltender Cam Talbot made 28 saves, and center Ryan Hartman — like Pitlick — racked up three points after he set up all Pitlick's goals.
Pitlick is the first Wild player and 31st player in NHL history to record a hat trick in the same game that included his first NHL goal.
That first goal came 12 minutes, 33 seconds into the first period after Hartman chased down an Alex Goligoski clearing attempt and centered it for a Pitlick redirect that trickled over the goal line for Pitlick's first career goal.
"The awareness to see it even and then the execution, it was just on a platter," Pitlick said of Hartman's pass.
His second goal came at 7:44 of the second when Hartman ran into the Kraken's Jared McCann to knock the puck loose and since McCann fell down after the collision, Pitlick scooped up the puck for a breakaway that he buried behind goalie Philipp Grubauer.
Then, with 40 seconds to go in the second, Hartman fed Pitlick for another breakaway — this time reaching Pitlick with a stretch pass that Pitlick deked before releasing from his forehand, the same strategy he deployed on his previous goal. Pitlick considered changing his shot but ultimately stuck with an attempt he's long practiced.
"He hit the post in Vancouver with that same move," Hartman said, referring to Pitlick's try Oct. 26 against the Canucks. "He should be 3-for-3 on that. He knows how to score goals."
The hat trick, which was celebrated by a smattering of hats hitting the ice, was the 32nd in Wild history from the 19th player and the second this season for the Wild; Joel Eriksson Ek had the other on Oct. 19 vs. Winnipeg.
This career highlight came in Pitlick's 16th NHL game and only his fifth with the Wild, which claimed the former Gophers standout from Plymouth off waivers from Nashville during training camp. Earlier in the trip, during the 5-2 win at Arizona, Pitlick picked up an assist in his second game back after returning from COVID-19.
"I just feel super connected to being in Minnesota," Pitlick said. "I'm just really grateful to be here."
After his three-goal outburst, Pitlick now ranks among the top goal producers on the team; only Hartman (seven), Eriksson Ek (five) and Marcus Foligno (five) have more goals.
"It's got to be pretty special for him," said Talbot, who has now won against every NHL team. "Those were three pretty highlight-reel goals, too, so I think that makes it that much more enjoyable for him and just the way that he was able to do it."
As for Hartman, he continues to lead the Wild in goals and is tied with Kirill Kaprizov for the most points on the team (11) after racking up seven in his last five games and nine over his past eight. This was his third career three-point game.
"He's kind of a Swiss Army knife," Talbot said. "You can put him out in a situation, and you know that you're comfortable with him out there."
Not only have these contributions come at different positions — Hartman was back at center vs. Seattle after a stint on the wing — but he's managed to capitalize alongside different linemates. Teaming up with Pitlick and Jordan Greenway was one of the tweaks the Wild made after the 3-2 loss at Vegas on Thursday.
"He made a statement that he wants to play center maybe," Evason said. "But he doesn't care, right? He just plays, and his instincts were real good tonight. His faceoffs were good [9-for-16]. We trust him in all those areas.
"He plays the right way and got rewarded for it with Rem scoring some nice goals."
The Kraken finally trimmed its deficit in the third period, with former Wild player Marcus Johansson converting on Seattle's second of three power plays at 9:19; the Wild went 0-for-1.
Alex Wennberg also scored, at 18:59, but the Wild already had a fourth goal by then after Nico Sturm dumped the puck into an empty net with 5:06 to go.
Evason reminded the team before the third that the Kraken wouldn't fade in the final period, and the Wild survived the pressure to return home on the upswing.
"We're a resilient team," Talbot said. "We always talk about if you lose one, you don't lose two. If you lose two, you definitely don't lose three. We're very confident with our game."