The pass was perfect, a tape-to-tape feed by Kirill Kaprizov that Joel Eriksson Ek shuffled into the back of the net.
Not only did that combination cap off a stunning 6-5 overtime rally by the Wild against Winnipeg on Tuesday night, but it also sealed a career-high three assists for Kaprizov and showcased the 24-year-old winger's perseverance.
While helping the Wild to a 3-0 debut, Kaprizov had run-ins with the Jets all over the ice — and that's not counting the rough stuff he initiated.
"I actually don't worry [about him]," said Eriksson Ek, who centers Kaprizov's line with Mats Zuccarello. "When you battle him in practice, you feel how strong he is on skates. He's a special player."
If how the Jets defended Kaprizov is any indication of what the reigning Rookie of the Year can expect in his second season from teams facing him for the first time, Kaprizov will be playing under a microscope.
“You love to see that ticked-off Kirill. It's pretty scary once he gets going. That's who he is. That's who we're going to see for a long time. That's special.”
If his response was a preview of how he'll handle the attention, Kaprizov should still dominate for the Wild.
"He got better and better," coach Dean Evason said. "You keep poking him, and he doesn't shy away from it. He engages it, and he moves forward. So, he got better as the game went on, and we couldn't get him enough ice time at the end."
It was one of Kaprizov's clashes with Winnipeg that put the Wild on the power play in overtime, which set the stage for Eriksson Ek's game-winning hat trick.
Kaprizov was held up by the Jets' Josh Morrissey to draw the man advantage before tumbling into the boards after Kyle Connor got his stick between Kaprizov's legs.
Earlier in the game, he was taken down by Pierre-Luc Dubois after exiting the penalty box where Kaprizov served a roughing penalty after hitting 6-7 Logan Stanley, who whacked Kaprizov in the back afterward. This combativeness seemed to settle down after a fight between Marcus Foligno and Brenden Dillion later in the first period, a tussle that included a superman punch from Foligno.
"We want to protect guys like that, for sure, and that's part of my job," Foligno said. "But there's no one on the bench thinking, 'Oh, no. He's going to get hurt out there.' He's a big, strong kid, and you just love to see that out of him."
What was key for the Wild was that these battles didn't prevent Kaprizov from being a factor in the outcome.
Overall, his line totaled 10 points since Zuccarello picked up two goals and two assists.
"That line's dangerous because when they get emotionally involved, it's almost game over," Foligno said.
This isn't a new challenge for Kaprizov, trying to outduel the opponent.
He was actually quite proficient at it last season, leading the Wild and NHL rookies in goals (27) and points (51) to become the franchise's first Calder Trophy winner. But what's different now is that more teams are going to try to slow him down.
That extra pressure could end up favoring the opposition or Kaprizov.
So far, Kaprizov has the edge.
"You love to see that ticked-off Kirill," Foligno said. "It's pretty scary once he gets going. That's who he is. That's who we're going to see for a long time. That's special."