ANAHEIM, CALIF. – Kirill Kaprizov is off to a splashy start, and the NHL has noticed.
After a four-point turnout in two games that included scoring in overtime during his debut and then setting up the overtime winner in his second game, the rookie Wild left winger was named the NHL's first star of the week on Monday.
He was also named the NHL Players Association's player of the week.
Philadelphia's Travis Konecny and Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos were the NHL's second and third stars.
"He's just a very humble, hardworking kid," captain Jared Spurgeon said of Kaprizov. "He just wants to win and play hockey. You can see from his work ethic he's not just satisfied with one game. Obviously, he's been a big part of the two wins that we've had. But every day he comes in and he's ready to work, and he works hard."
Kaprizov is the first player in NHL history with overtime points in his first two career games, and his feed to center Marcus Johansson for the game-deciding goal Saturday in a 4-3 overtime win over Los Angeles came after a rough second period for the 23-year-old.
His turnover led to a 2-on-1 break for the Kings that they capitalized to go up 3-1 and later in the period, another Kaprizov bobble sparked a rush for the Kings that Kaprizov interrupted with a slash — a penalty that negated the Wild's power play.
While Kaprizov realized the mistakes he made, the team feels miscues like that can't change his approach.
"He also knows he screwed up, and you don't have to yell at a guy for that," winger Marcus Foligno said.
"The skill that he brings, it's going to happen. He's a little bit of high risk, but it's high reward a little bit in this game. But he'll learn those things and go with the flow."
The NHL is also honoring frontline healthcare workers during the season and spotlighted Wild season-ticket holder Brittany Hutchinson, a Fairview Hospital COVID unit nurse, as a "First Star" alongside Kaprizov.
In 2004, Hutchinson became the youngest person in America to receive the Medal of Valor, earning the recognition after pushing a child out of the way of a school bus and allowing herself to be run over instead. She has also participated in 12 humanitarian and medical relief missionary trips to eight states and four countries, including India, Taiwan, Paraguay and Belize.
Jordan Greenway clutched a smashed stick and bent his head down on the bench.
With the Wild trailing 3-2 late in the third period on Saturday, the winger had a point-blank chance to tie the action after he got a jump behind the Kings defense, but his shot sailed wide of the net.
"I was frustrated," Greenway said.
The Wild still ended up scoring the tying goal, with two seconds to go in the third, before finishing off its rally in overtime, and although Greenway wasn't the one to extend the action, he still made an impact for the Wild by assisting on two earlier goals.
"There aren't many guys that can handle him in this league," Foligno said. "When he gets that puck, he creates so much. I just talk to him about simplifying, because he's so strong, and straight lines. He has the skill in tight, too. But his game is just that power-forward mentality. He's been bringing it."
The entire third line featuring Greenway, Foligno and center Joel Eriksson Ek has been the Wild's most consistent, and not only has the group contributed with its defensive play but it's also been a force on the forecheck — chipping in a key goal in the first two games.
"It's nice to have a group that can go out there and change the momentum of a game with a big defensive shift or a grinding forecheck shift," coach Dean Evason said. "But you combine that with a production factor, it clearly gives that group confidence but it gives the team an added bonus."
Wild helmets will sport a decal honoring Willie O'Ree through the end of February, which is Black History Month.
O'Ree was the NHL's first Black player, and Monday — which was also Martin Luther King Jr. Day — was the 63-year anniversary of his debut.