Wild’s Kaprizov’s overtime game-winner put him in rare NHL company


Minnesota Wild fans have been waiting for the NHL debut of Kirill Kaprizov for years.

He did not disappoint.

Finally donning a Wild No. 97 sweater, Kaprizov took the ice for the first time Thursday night in Los Angeles and notched three points, including the game-winner in overtime.

Kaprizov became the 67th player since 1979 to record a game-winning goal in his debut. He’s the first to do it in his first NHL game since Drake Batherson for Ottawa on Nov. 15, 2018.

He’s also just the third player to have a game-winning goal and three points in his NHL appearance, joining Dallas’ Fabian Brunnstrom in 2008 and the New York Rangers’ Derek Stepan in 2010 – both of whom had had tricks. Kaprizov is the first player (since at least 1979) to have a game-winning goal and record two assists in his first game.

Kaprizov is just the third Wild player to have a game-winner in his debut.

Richard Wallin, who played in just 19 games for the Wild in two seasons, did it at Detroit on Dec. 12, 2002. Wallin scored what would be his only goal of the season (he’d play just four games) at the 11:33 mark of the second period to give Minnesota a 3-1 lead in an eventual 3-2 victory.

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On Jan. 21, 2012 at home against Dallas, Chad Rau broke a 2-2 tie at the 13:51 mark of the second period. The Wild would go on to win 5-2. Rau, a native of Eden Prairie, played in just eight more games with Minnesota and in the NHL and tallied one more goal.

Zach Parise also scored a game-winner in his first NHL game, albeit with New Jersey in 2005.

Kaprizov was the first to have a game-winning goal in his debut and also that team’s first game of the season since 2015, when two players did it – St. Louis’ Robby Fabbri and Dallas’ Mattias Janmark. Kaprizov is just the 19th player since 1979 to accomplish that feat.

Kaprizov nearly stands alone in one facet, however. Since 1979, only one other player had an overtime game-winning goal in his debut (no matter when it occurred during the season): Tim Sweeney for Calgary on Oct. 4, 1990.

Yup, over 30 years ago. Worth the wait.

Source: Fox Sports

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