SEATTLE (AP)Rem Pitlick scored his first three NHL goals and the Minnesota Wild beat the Seattle Kraken 4-2 Saturday night for their fifth win in six games.
Nico Sturm added an empty-netter with about 5 minutes left, and Ryan Hartman had three assists for Minnesota. Cam Talbot had 28 saves.
Pitlick became the 31st player in NHL history – and first for the Wild – to get a hat trick in the same game as scoring his first goal.
”It’s hard to put into words,” Pitlick said. ”I’m trying to take it all in. Obviously super-excited to get the first one, and then three – I don’t know. I’m just super grateful.”
Pitlick came into the game with four assists in 15 career games – four with the Wild this year and 11 with Nashville last season. Before his scoring outburst against the Kraken, the former University of Minnesota player had only two shots all season.
”He plays the right way and got rewarded for it,” said Wild coach Dean Evason. ”What we noticed on the breakaways is that, yes, he made some nice moves and finished nice, but he’s going so fast he just has to skate past goaltenders.”
Marcus Johansson had a power-play goal for Seattle, and Alex Wennberg also scored. Philipp Grubauer finished with 18 saves. The Kraken have lost six of seven since a 4-1 win here over the Wild on Oct. 28.
”There’s a ton of emotion for our players. They’re working hard,” Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said. ”A couple of spots tonight we pressed a little bit too hard and it cost us. I won’t fault our guys’ effort in any way, shape or form tonight.”
Pitlick got his first goal with 7:27 left in the first period. Hartman hustled down the ice to get the puck on the boards near the red line, and his cross-ice pass found Pitlick in front. where he was able to sneak the shot in past Grubauer.
”It was nice for him to set the momentum for me to get that first one,” Pitlick said. ”That first pass was unbelievable. The awareness to see it, even, and then the execution like it was just on a platter.”
Hartman set up Pitlick again midway through the second. Hartman’s hit on Seattle’s Jared McCann led to a turnover, with Pitlick getting the puck near the blue line for an easy breakaway at 7:44. With 40 seconds left in the period, Hartman again found Pitlick streaking up the ice after a turnover for a breakaway to complete the hat trick.
”Those were three pretty highlight-reel goals, too,” Talbot said. ”He definitely earned it tonight.”
Johansson pulled Seattle to 3-1 at 9:19 of the third with the team’s first power-play goal at home. The Kraken had started 0 for 20 with the man advantage on home ice.
After Sturm regained Minnesota’s three-goal lead, Wennberg pulled Seattle back within two with 1:02 remaining.
The Wild (10-4-0) have 20 points for the best start through 14 games in franchise history. Minnesota also had 20 points after 14 games in 2015-16, 2006-07 and 2002-03.
”We’re getting goals from up and down, our first to our fourth line. Anytime you can have the chemistry and distribution of points like that, it’s going to take us that much further,” Talbot said. ”I think teams are having a tough time matching up against us because of the way that we can beat them with any line.”
NOTES: Seattle F Colin Blackwell made his season debut. Blackwell was activated before the game, after missing the opening 14 games with a lower body injury. … Seattle F Riley Sheahan was placed on waivers on Saturday. . It was Hartman’s fourth career game with at least three points. … Jordan Eberle assisted on Johansson’s goal, as both he and Wennberg extended their point-scoring streaks to five games.
Wild: Host San Jose on Tuesday night.
Kraken: Host Chicago on Wednesday night.
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