Kirill Kaprizov was behind the wheel for his and Marat Khusnutdinov's 15-minute commute to Xcel Energy Center on Thursday, the two listening to Russian music during the drive.

But the new Wild teammates also had their own soundtrack going.

They chatted about hockey, and Kaprizov shared some advice, telling Khusnutdinov not to be too worried.

"I had some questions. He had some good answers," Khusnutdinov said. "Just some good back and forth."

Kaprizov could sense Khusnutdinov was nervous, and who wouldn't be?

"First game in NHL," Kaprizov said, "it's different."

But after completing the ceremonial solo skate, Khusnutdinov looked more like a pro than a rookie.

"Excited," he said. "Just excited."

The Wild's 2-0 victory over Anaheim was routine, a straightforward style indicative of the momentum they've built from winning three in a row and five of their last six games and how seamlessly Khusnutdinov fit into their lineup less than a week after arriving from Russia.

He centered veteran wingers Marcus Foligno and Frederick Gaudreau, and the 21-year-old won six of nine faceoffs while blocking a game-high four shots during 11 minutes, 54 seconds of ice time.

"I feel he played pretty good," said Kaprizov, who scored his team-leading 34th goal in the second period. "His faceoffs, first period, won, won, won. It's nice for him. Happy for him."

After the Wild drafted Khusnutdinov 37th overall during the second round in 2020, he became a prized prospect while he developed in the KHL, and the spotlight followed the Moscow native to Minnesota after he signed a two-year, entry-level contract on Feb. 28.

Not only did the 5-11, 176-pound Khusnutdinov have the ice to himself at the beginning of warmups on Thursday night, a tradition for rookies before their inaugural NHL game, he was cheered when he took his first shift and after he successfully swiped at the puck on his first two faceoffs.

"It's the dream of every hockey player to do the lap in the NHL, to play in the NHL," Khusnutdinov said through an interpreter. "It's an amazing feeling."

Coach John Hynes noticed Khusnutdinov being "in tune with everything," describing Khusnutdinov's play as encouraging for Khusnutdinov and the Wild.

"He's certainly a smart player," Hynes said. "He certainly understands how to play without the puck. I thought he was good in a lot of areas."

Imagine the type of impact Khusnutdinov has when he showcases his strengths.

That's right — although he wasn't out of place with the Wild, Khusnutdinov made it clear he didn't play his game.

"No, not yet," said Khusnutdinov, who mentioned his parents and sister watched his debut on TV. "I still need to control the puck better, make better plays. Today was a good team win. I'm glad I could contribute, but personally I could do a lot better. I need to do a lot better."

The opportunity to improve should be available to Khusnutdinov.

Joel Eriksson Ek (lower-body injury) won't make the trip to St. Louis where the Wild will begin a three-game road trip on Saturday, a game with significant playoff implications: the Wild lead the Blues by two points and trail the Golden Knights by four in the race for the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

"Every point is very important," Khusnutdinov said. "I'm going to do everything I can to contribute every night."