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Shorthanded Wild earn a crazy victory over Capitals

An own goal, a benching and a shootout gave Minnesota an unlikely win.
Kevin Fiala / Minnesota Wild

The Minnesota Wild were severely depleted on Saturday but found a way to win, defeating the Washington Capitals 3-2 in a shootout.

The Wild were without star winger Kirill Kaprizov, which deprived fans of a Russian showdown with Alexander Ovechkin. But Minnesota was down nine players due to injuries and COVID-19 protocols, providing an extra challenge against one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

Kaapo Kähkönen was able to keep Minnesota in the game through a scoreless first period but the Wild became their own worst enemy in the second.

It was a rough game for Kevin Fiala, who went to the penalty box three times in the second frame. Connor McMichael and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored to take advantage of the Wild's mistakes but Minnesota got a break on their own delayed penalty.

After Mats Zuccarello was called for tripping, Carl Hagelin tried to send the puck back to the blue line during a 6-on-5 situation. But Hagelin's pass sailed nearly 200 feet into the back of his own net and gave Marcus Foligno his 100th career goal.

It appeared that would be the only offense the Wild would generate on the night. Capitals goaltender Zach Fucale was outstanding and set an NHL record for the longest scoreless streak to start a career.

With time winding down in the third period, Mats Zuccarello finally broke through, scoring his ninth goal of the year with 35 seconds left to send the game to overtime.

After a scoreless overtime, the game went into a shootout. Both teams came up empty in Round 1 but Fiala, who was benched earlier in the game, came up big in Round 2.

Another stop by Kähkönen gave Freddy Gaudreau a chance to win the game and his wrister helped Minnesota escape with the victory.

The good news for Minnesota is that they will have some time to heal. The Wild don't play again until they host Anaheim on Jan. 14 and hopefully, some of their key players will return to the lineup.

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