Ryan Suter sat stone-faced, pondered the question and gave his response.
"I haven't heard any talk about Kirill, but about our team, a ton," Suter deadpanned Saturday morning when asked if he's noticed the buzz that rookie Kirill Kaprizov is creating around the Twin Cities.
The defenseman couldn't keep up the ruse any longer, and laughter quickly followed. "Obviously, I'm kidding. Kirill's awesome."
The Russian phenom quickly is becoming the talk of the town, especially following his performance Friday night, when he took control of a game that was scoreless after two periods by notching his first career hat trick as the Wild beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-0 at Xcel Energy Center.
Playing in his 25th NHL game, Kaprizov added to a growing list of jaw-dropping moments. His 23 points on 10 goals and 13 assists lead the Wild and are tops among NHL rookies.
After scoring his first goal Friday on a shot that caromed in off Coyotes center Christian Dvorak's skate, Kaprizov made it 2-0 when he bolted off the bench, took a pass from Nick Bjugstad, sped around the net, faked a wraparound, then fired a shot from the slot past goalie Adin Hill.
It appeared Kaprizov's attempt at a hat trick would come with the Coyotes net empty, but Jonas Brodin's empty-net goal with 59 seconds left changed that. No matter. Ten seconds later, Kaprizov one-timed a Mats Zuccarello pass over Hill's glove to complete the milestone. In non-COVID-19 years, hats would've rained down on the ice.
"Those pure goal-scorers, when goals need to be scored, they find a way to accomplish that," Suter said. "… The high-end players in the league are the guys who take over the game in those situations."
Wild coach Dean Evason, with a constant focus on the next game ahead, said he hasn't noticed the buzz surrounding Kaprizov and his team, which is on a 10-2-1 run.
"Unfortunately, we don't get to interact with people that much," Evason said, "but I do know from family members and friends that are constantly texting me and calling and talking about not only Kirill, but how the group's playing. It's exciting for us as a staff."
Talbot seizes chance
While Kaprizov's performance stood out, Wild goalie Cam Talbot's efforts also were key on Friday. The veteran stopped 25 shots for his first shutout of the season, highlighted by three breakaway denials of Arizona's Phil Kessel.
"Kessel had how many breakaways?" Evason asked. "The game could have been gone."
Talbot was starting for the first time since a 5-2 loss to Arizona on March 6. Evason rode the hot hand of rookie Kaapo Kahkonen, who stretched his winning streak to eight games with victories over West Division-leading Vegas on Monday and Wednesday.
Evason said Talbot will start Sunday against Arizona. The coach is impressed with how Talbot has handled the situation, including a scene Monday when he collected the puck to give to Kahkonen for his first career shutout, 2-0 over Vegas.
"Cam's presence with our hockey club — his leadership, his calmness and his team-first mentality — is phenomenal," Evason said. "It did not surprise us that he would do that, that he would go out of his way to do something for somebody else and for a guy that maybe he's competing against."
Foligno's status TBD
Evason did not have a specific update on forward Marcus Foligno, who hobbled off the ice during Friday's game and didn't return after getting hit on his lower right leg by a slapshot from Brodin.
"It didn't look good whenever a guy like that stays down and doesn't come back," Evason said. "Who knows? He's tough enough to come back, so we'll see."
Forward Marcus Johansson, who has missed the past 13 games because of an upper-body injury, skated in practice but won't play Sunday, Evason said.
Parise on bench
Wild veteran forward Zach Parise, who has one goal and three assists in his past 10 games, didn't play in the final 13:06 of the third period. "We made a decision to go to three lines when Moose [Foligno] got hurt," Evason said. "We made the decision to go with the nine guys that we did."
When asked how Parise reacted, Evason said, "I don't know. You'll have to ask Zach."