We wondered which young superstar would end up with the superior performance on Thursday night when comparing Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks and Kirill Kaprizov of the Minnesota Wild.
Pettersson, now age 23, won the Calder Trophy in 2019 as the NHL’s rookie-of-the-year and Kaprizov won it two years later in 2021. Oddly enough, Kaprizov is older than ‘Petey’ by about 19-months. After spending the first five years of his career playing in the Russian KHL, Kaprizov finally came to the NHL in 2020.
Despite some complaints about his ‘unfair’ experience level, Kaprizov beat the Calder age requirement by a wide margin. He started his NHL rookie year at age-23. To be eligible, a player just needs to be age-26 or younger at the start of his first full season.
Both players worked some magic in this game.
Four minutes in, ‘Petey’ stole the puck along the endboards from Wild goalie Cam Talbot, centered it, only to have it knocked away.
At the other end Kaprizov created a scoring chance by centering from the left point but this puck was also deflected away.
Later on the same shift Pettersson raced up ice on a 2-on-1 and delivered a perfect pass to Brock Boeser to his left. Talbot robbed Boeser. However, moments later off the line’s forecheck, Bo Horvat scored alone in the slot to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead.
At the 8:08 mark of the 1st period, following a solid forecheck, Kaprizov got open at the top of the left wing circle, took a step and wired a shot top corner, glove side on Thatcher Demko to tie the game at one.
With three minutes remaining in the first period, Kaprizov fired a shot from the left point through a heavy screen and Demko had to make an excellent save.
With just two seconds remaining in the period, Kaprizov had another excellent scoring chance but was stymied.
A bit quieter for both guys in the second. Early on, Kaprizov turned a puck over at the Canucks blueline and it led to a Vancouver rush. Fortunately from his standpoint nothing came of it.
Pettersson has an excellent chance four minutes into the period and Talbot made a very good save.
Keep in mind both players are members of their respective top power play units and both had possession and created a number of opportunities on the limited man advantages in this game. Petey would end up getting an assist on a Vancouver Canucks 3rd period power play goal …
Kaprizov found Matt Dumba alone at the point for a 100-mph one-timer very early in the 3rd period and Demko made the stop and held. After the ensuing face-off, Kaprizov had one grade-A scoring chance and created another. The chance involved being alone in front and deflecting a shot/pass just wide. He and the Wild were dominant possession-wise early in the period.
The Canucks picked up a power play chance at 4:48 and yet another at 7:50. They’d score just six seconds into that second opportunity to tie the game at 2-2. JT Miller from Quinn Hughes and Pettersson off an offensive zone face-off win.
Kaprizov made the Canucks nervous in the final minute as he raced around the offensive zone and hit the side of the net with a backhander.
We’d expect to see both gentlemen a lot in overtime. Nor surprise that both guys started the extra session.
Just :31 seconds in, the Minnesota Wild won the game 3-2 when Joel Eriksson Ek took a lead pass and scored on a breakaway deke move against Demko. Kaprizov provided the primary assist.
Advantage Kaprizov on the evening with his goal, assist, and his team’s victory. However, as usual, both players provided entertainment in a feisty affair. Both are elite players who haven’t entered their prime.
Final Game Numbers:
Elias Pettersson – 22:55 in ice time, including 3:02 on PP, 1:31 on PK. 1 assist, 1 shot-on-goal, 1 hit, even
Kirill Kaprizov – 17:21 in ice time, including 2:07 on the power play, 1 goal, 1 assist, 5 shots on goal, plus-1
“That Kaprizov is pretty dynamic, that’s the first time I’ve ever seen him play,” Vancouver Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau said postgame. “The one thing he can do is he’s so accurate with his shot, he had a couple in the third period too that you knew where he was going and he was hitting his spot but Demko just made the save.”