Friday's NHL: Former UM star Beniers records five points in five games

Mike Cook
Associated Press

St. Paul, Minn. — Kirill Kaprizov had a goal and three assists to become the first player in Minnesota franchise history with at least 100 points in a season, and the Wild established four franchise records and tied another in beating Seattle 6-3 Friday night.

Joel Eriksson Ek had two goals and an assist, Mats Zuccarello, Ryan Hartman and Nicolas Deslauriers also scored, and Kevin Fiala had a team-record five assists for Minnesota, which also established all-time bests with its 50th win and 107 points.

Kraken center Matty Beniers (10) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Wild during the third period of Friday's game in St. Paul, Minn.

“There were a lot of different things that happened tonight as far as individual milestones and all that kind of stuff. But our group doesn’t really care about that,” said Wild coach Dean Evason. “Kirill and Kevin were more excited when D-Lo scored than anything, right? That shows you the group is really tight and playing for the right reasons.”

Former Michigan star Matty Beniers scored a goal for the Kraken to become the first rookie to begin his NHL career with points in five consecutive games since New Jersey’s Ty Smith Jan. 14-24, 2021.

Five minutes into the third period, Vince Dunn and Beniers worked a passing exchange, Dunn ripped a shot on goal and Marc-Andre Fleury made the save but couldn't control the rebound.

"[Dunn] is a smart player," Beniers told about his teammate's team-leading 29 assists. "He makes plays and some have ended up bouncing to me and I have been in the right spot. There's kind of a bit of luck there."

Fleury overcame an early gaffe and had 25 saves to improve to 7-1-0 since being acquired from Chicago at the trade deadline.

Daniel Sprong and Yanni Gourde scored early for Seattle, which saw its season-high three game-winning streak end. Philipp Grubauer finished with 29 saves.

Tying his career-high with four points, Kaprizov has 45 goals and 56 assists for the Wild, winners of four straight and 7-0-2 in their past nine games. Minnesota is 16-1-3 in its past 20 outings, outscoring opponents 77-48 while scoring at least three goals in 18 of those games.

“For me, obviously it’s a huge accomplishment … but at the end of the day, we need to focus, we have playoffs coming up and it’s about getting better every single game and continuing this momentum,” Kaprizov said through an interpreter.

The Wild are 12-0-1 in the past 13 home games, tying a team record for consecutive points. It went 10-0-3 from Dec. 27, 2017, to Feb. 13, 2018.

Minnesota, which holds a two-point advantage over St. Louis for second place in the Central Division, is 29-6-2 at Xcel Energy Center. The teams are locked into a first-round playoff matchup.

Down 2-1 after one period, Fiala attracted three defenders before feeding Eriksson Ek for his second goal of the game early in the second.

Minnesota then scored four times in a 7:37 stretch.

Kaprizov redirected Fiala’s shot past Grubauer, and Hartman scored short side to make it 4-2. Fiala and Kaprizov got assists on Zuccarello’s goal before Deslauriers scored on his own rebound.

Kaprizov and Zuccarello goals came on the power play, as did Eriksson Ek’s first goal. The Wild tied a season-high with three man-advantage goals.

“The second period they were a team that was playing for a playoff position and seeding, and they played for real. We played 20 minutes of shinny hockey. That’s the bottom line,” said Seattle coach Dave Hakstol, who was most displeased with bad turnovers.

“I think a lot of their offense was self-inflicted. We kind of gave it to them,” Beniers said.

Fiala is on a four-game multi-point streak and has nine goals and 12 assists in a nine-game scoring stretch.

“If you’re a player and you think about the points stuff, the points are not coming,” Fiala said. “I just come here have fun with the guys try to play the game like in present you know, instinct and, and everything settles.”

Matt Boldy had an assist to extend his official career-high point streak to eight games, surpassing Marian Gaborik’s rookie record of seven. Boldy has points in his last 10 games; however, he missed four games with an injury after the first two.

More games

►(At) Edmonton 6, Colorado 3: Evander Kane had three goals and an assist, Connor McDavid had three assists and the Edmonton Oilers clinched a playoff berth with a 6-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night.

Evan Bouchard, Kailer Yamamoto and Kris Russell also scored for the Oilers, who have won four in a row and improved to 12-0-1 in their last 13 games on home ice. Mike Smith had 34 saves.

Valeri Nichushkin had two goals and Nathan MacKinnon also scored for the Western Conference-leading Avalanche. Darcy Kuemper finished with 21 saves. Colorado has dropped three in a row and lost for just the second time this season when leading after the first period.

►Ottawa 2, (at) Columbus 1 (SO): Tim Stutzle scored in the shootout to lift Ottawa to its second straight road win.

Brady Tkachuk also scored and Filip Gustavsson stopped 33 shots for the Senators in his first career shootout win.

Jack Roslovic had Columbus’ goal and Elvis Merzlikins had 25 saves in the Blue Jackets’ fourth straight loss (0-3-1).

►Washington 2, (at) Arizona 0: Conor Sheary scored in the first period and Vitek Vanecek got his fourth shutout of the season as Washington got its seventh win in nine games.

John Carlson scored his 16th into an empty net with 25 seconds remaining. Vanecek stopped 19 shots for his seventh career shutout and 20th victory of the season. The Capitals pulled even with Pittsburgh for third place in the Metropolitan Division with 99 points.

Karel Vejmelka had 27 saves for the Coyotes, who have lost nine straight (0-8-1).