GLENDALE, ARIZ. – More shots and less passing.
That's what Kirill Kaprizov, Victor Rask and Mats Zuccarello realized a few games ago when they were being a little too cutesy with their decision-making.
And once they made that adjustment not only did the line start to ignite offense again after a two-game lull, but the chemistry between Kaprizov and Zuccarello was unmistakable in the Wild's 5-1 takedown of the Coyotes on Friday.
"He's a smart hockey player," Zuccarello said of Kaprizov. "He reads off everyone he plays with pretty well, and I try to do the same thing. We just like to play the same kind of style of hockey."
After Kaprizov slipped the puck to Zuccarello for a rising shot past goalie Antti Raanta to open the scoring, the two set up Nick Bjugstad for the Wild's third goal with the rookie Kaprizov's creativity on display — dishing off a no-look, behind-the-back pass as he veered for a wraparound, an audible that left Bjugstad alone to bank the puck into an empty side.
While he can be a one-man show, Kaprizov has been at his most consistent alongside Zuccarello and Rask and he seems to be especially in stride with Zuccarello. The two actually bonded while Zuccarello was still recovering from arm surgery, with their locker stalls next to each other at TRIA Rink.
"We get along well," Zuccarello said.
Ian Cole got his stick back after he borrowed it to Jordan Greenway, who used it to score on a breakaway in the second period Friday.
"Coley gave me his 2-by-4 and found a way to sneak it five-hole," Greenway said.
The heads-up play was another example of how Cole has contributed to the Wild since a trade from Colorado in January. Since then, Cole has played to his identity as a tough-as-nails defender — including a memorable shift Feb. 27 against Los Angeles when he stayed on the ice despite his foot going numb from a shot block.
"As a player, I hate getting scored on. It's one of my least favorite things of probably my life, so whatever it takes to not get scored on in that moment, just get it done and get off the ice and get some able bodies on the ice, and then work through it," he said.
Brad Hunt remained in the lineup Saturday after scoring the game-winning goal Friday during the first period in only his sixth appearance of the season.
"There is no one on our team that's more excited for his teammates than Huntsy over here," Cole said. "The fact that we had a chance to reciprocate that early and be over the moon for him was huge. It's very hard to step in and play a great hockey game, and he did a fantastic job."
Aside from Cam Talbot taking over in net for Kahkonen, the Wild made no other changes.
Ryan Hartman missed a third consecutive game because of a lower-body injury. The Wild also reassigned forward Gerald Mayhew to the taxi squad.
The Wild played in front of fans during the entire road trip, with Vegas and Arizona admitting limited crowds.
And while the applause in Vegas was for the Golden Knights, pockets of Wild jerseys were inside Gila River Arena on Friday and the Wild heard cheers after its goals.
"We had a lot of Wild fans, and they made themselves known, which was fantastic," Cole said. "Very excited to see that."