Kirill Kaprizov and Jordan Greenway were still on the ice Saturday inside Xcel Energy Center long after the rest of their Wild teammates had left practice, but Kaprizov wasn't giving Greenway a tutorial on the between-the-legs shot he attempted Friday against San Jose.
"We talked about it, for sure," Greenway said. "[But] I'll stay in my lane."
Even though it was unsuccessful — getting blocked by Sharks goalie Devan Dubnyk — the play rang up as a highlight in Kaprizov's young NHL career, a nod to his talent and his smarts.
"The skill set of these players is phenomenal and to do it at the pace that they do it in the environment they do it in the greatest league in the world is pretty exciting," coach Dean Evason said. "That was fun to watch."
The day after he tried the move, Kaprizov was the last one to exit the ice at practice. He not only was still stickhandling after Greenway left, but he was even passing pucks off the boards as the Zamboni was getting queued up to clean the ice.
And that's another impression Kaprizov is making, how much passion he has for hockey.
"He loves the game," Marcus Foligno said. "You can just tell. He's always trying to work on things. He loves shooting pucks. He's addicted to the game, and it's great to see. He loves being out there.
"… It's refreshing to have guys like that in the locker room, bring that confidence about them and love for the game, the passion, into the room. He's a fun kid out there. He's just enjoying it."
Kahkonen starts, Talbot a scratch
Goalie Cam Talbot did not start or suit up Sunday after leaving Friday's game because of a lower-body injury. He is considered day-to-day.
Talbot was hurt late in the first period, getting checked out by the team following a sequence on a San Jose power play. Although he played the rest of the period, Talbot didn't finish the game. Backup Kaapo Kahkonen came in, stopping all 17 shots he faced to help the Wild to a 4-1 victory, and he returned to the crease Sunday.
Andrew Hammond, who had been on the Wild's taxi squad since the season started, was recalled to the active roster. Goalie Hunter Jones took Hammond's place on the taxi squad, getting added from Iowa in American Hockey League.
Winger Nico Sturm, who missed Friday's game due to illness, was also out Sunday and is day-to-day. His absence is not COVID-related.
Hunt's versatility pays off
When Evason learned that Sturm would be unavailable for Friday's game, the Wild tabbed Brad Hunt to take Sturm's spot on the fourth line even though Hunt is a defenseman. The team kept Hunt in the lineup Sunday — a decision that showcases Hunt's versatility.
"He deserved to be in there, the way that he's practiced [and] worked," Evason said. "That's how you get in."
The team actually planned on giving Hunt shifts on defense and subbing someone else in that fourth-line hole, but Evason thought Hunt did so well with the limited minutes he received that Evason kept Hunt with the line.
Hunt said he feels that ability to rove between forward and defense is what has kept him in the NHL. "I just want to be a guy that they can throw in and feel comfortable with whatever they need," he said.
Before Friday, Hunt was a healthy scratch for the Wild. While he was idle, the team added new defenseman Ian Cole via trade. But Hunt said that's part of the game and he understands his role.
"Somebody has to be in this position," he said. "It's not that it's always the funnest to be in this position. But at the end of the day, you got to be here for your teammates and be positive."
Fiala is good to go
Kevin Fiala left the first period Friday after taking a hip check from Logan Couture, but the winger returned for the second and went on to score his first goal of the season into an empty net.
"It was scary," Fiala said of the play. "I saw him coming, but I thought I made a move and had him. But he got my left leg, so I fell down. It was pretty painful, but … I'm fine now."