ST. LOUIS – High-scoring battles, goaltending duels and extracurricular activities in between whistles.
The regular-season matchups between the Wild and Golden Knights were a highlight-reel machine, and now the two West Division rivals will get an encore in a first-round, best-of-seven playoff series.
"Emotional games against them," said Marcus Foligno, who has helped fuel the rivalry this year and the Wild's success against Vegas, scoring three goals and adding four assists. "It's always been fun. It's always been back and forth and physical and heavy, so it suits us well. They're a great team. We're a great team. So, it's going to be a fun series."
Game 1 is at 2 p.m. Sunday in Las Vegas and although the Golden Knights will have home-ice advantage, the Wild was competitive at T-Mobile Arena in its four trips to the Strip this year.
The team had a 4-2 lead going into the third period March 1 before giving up two goals late, including one in the last minute of regulation, before fading 5-4 in overtime. Zach Parise was benched the next game for his extended shift that coincided with the Golden Knights' game-tying goal.
In the March 3 rematch, Vegas was ahead only 2-1 until the last 10 minutes of the third when the Golden Knights tacked on three goals. The 5-1 win was the most lopsided result in the series.
But when the Wild returned to Nevada in April, the team swept Vegas.
First, the Wild prevailed 3-2 in a shootout April 1 in what was arguably goaltender Cam Talbot's best game of the year. And then the Wild rallied in the third for a 2-1 comeback on April 3.
"Real good games, real intense hockey games," coach Dean Evason said. "It'll be a lot of fun."
At Xcel Energy Center, the Wild has also held its ground.
The Wild won consecutive games March 8 and 10, shutting out Vegas 2-0 and then eking out a 4-3 win.
More recently, the Wild stunned the Golden Knights 6-5 on May 3 after scoring three goals in the third, including twice in the last two minutes. Two nights later on May 5, Vegas came from behind in the third to persevere 3-2 in overtime.
Both of those games felt like playoff previews, but it was the latter that stoked the intensity that could make for an edgy reunion in the playoffs.
Spats broke out all over the ice, star rookie Kirill Kaprizov was in the middle of a line brawl and 30 penalty minutes were assessed in the first period alone.
"We'd love to see these guys again," Foligno said after the game and his fight with the Golden Knights' Nicolas Hague.
Vegas has advanced to the playoffs in each of its first four seasons since entering the league in 2017 and is coming off a run to the Western Conference finals last year — this after the Golden Knights made it all the way to Stanley Cup Final in their debut season.
But the Wild is a team that's consistently been tough for Vegas to handle. The Wild has the most all-time wins against the Golden Knights, with 11 in 16 matches.
These teams have never collided in the playoffs but if shared history is any indication, the action will be intriguing.
"We just want to get going," Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek said. "It's going to be really fun. It's going to be a really exciting series."