The score hasn't always told the full story when the Wild has played the Golden Knights.
A 5-1 loss for the Wild last week in Vegas wasn't that lopsided, with the Golden Knights scoring twice late in the third period – including one goal into an empty net.
And the final result Wednesday during the fourth installment in 10 days between these two teams was also misleading, a 4-3 victory by the Wild that had the feel of a rout until late in the action.
"The score, it's unfortunate, but obviously it's a win so it doesn't matter what the score is," coach Dean Evason said. "It's more like a 4-1 hockey game with the things we did correctly."
Down by three goals late in the third, Vegas pried momentum away from the Wild after Carson Soucy and Keegan Kolesar were each hit with two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
Although neither dropped the gloves, they did get tangled up – a confrontation that happened behind the play.
"I tried to do whatever I could to not take a penalty," Soucy said.
And when play was at 4-on-4, Dylan Coghlan scored his second of the game before finishing off the hat trick with 2 minutes, 10 seconds to go while Vegas had an extra attacker on the ice after pulling its goalie.
"We're reeling a little bit," Evason said. "It influenced the hockey game absolutely 100 percent. We didn't think that we should have been in that spot. We gutted it out, but it was frustrating for sure."
By fending off the Golden Knights, the Wild preserved a number of positive developments for the team – in addition to moving two points closer to Vegas for the top spot in the West Division.
Goalie Kaapo Kahkonen extended his win streak to eight games, becoming the first NHL goalie this season to string that many victories together. He made 24 saves, once again outdueling future Hall of Famer Marc-Andre Fleury.
"You don't want to give them a chance to get that close, but I think it was still a fun game to play — just a tight game," Kahkonen said. "We got the lead there in the third, but they pushed back hard. It's just what it's going to be in a season like this, especially when there's so many games. It's just a grind sometimes, and you gotta find a way to win different ways. I think good teams do that."
Kirill Kaprizov's third-period goal ended a 0-for-20 dry spell for the power play that included a missed opportunity earlier in the game. He backhanded in a rebound from a Mats Zuccarello shot that was set up by a Nick Bjugstad faceoff win.
"That first power play we looked at each other and we just went like, 'How in the heck does the puck not go in the net?'" Evason said. "But credit to our group, credit to the guys. They were so positive on the bench, and we had a real good chat about it today — about doing exactly that. We told them what we were going to do as far as the plan for setups, what have you, and then we asked them to stay as positive as they could.
"At some point, something positive has to come. Fortunately, it helped us here tonight."
And Joel Eriksson Ek scored twice, bumping his total on the season to 10 — the most on the team and a new career high for the center.
His line with wingers Jordan Greenway and Marcus Foligno outshined the Golden Knights' top trio of Max Pacioretty, Chandler Stephenson and Mark Stone.
"I think we knew that line was really successful for them that first two games [in Vegas]," Eriksson Ek said. "Just trying to play good defense is going to give you chances on the offensive end, as well. We think defense but at the same time, we create offense from the defense. So, it's been good."