WINNIPEG — The power play disperses responsibility throughout the offensive zone, with skaters positioned on the toe, against the half-wall and in the slot.
But one position in particular can determine everyone’s effectiveness, and it’s the person in front of the net – a role the Wild Joel Eriksson Ek has thrived this season.
“You’re not going to score unless the goalkeeper has an element of screen or deception,” the coach said Dean Evason noted. “That’s when you’ll have more success scoring goals. Eriksson Ek is committed to that.”
Eriksson Ek delivered from there on Monday, redirecting the game-winning goal in the 7-4 win over Detroit that featured three power-play points on aggregate.
Not only was this the ninth time Eriksson Ek had scored on the power play, which ranked atop the team and accounted for almost two-thirds of its total goals, but only nine NHL players had converted more before the Wednesday’s match slate. .
It’s also Eriksson Ek’s most consistent appearance on the power play during his NHL career.
In the previous five seasons, he had scored one goal.
“If you go there, chances are you’ll get rewarded,” said Eriksson Ek, who also tends to capitalize around the 5-to-5 fold.
As he tries to distract the opposing goaltender with his 6-foot-3, 207-pound frame, Eriksson Ek is also an option to finish plays — as he was against the Red Wings.
When the puck is on point and he notices there is traffic en route to the net, Eriksson Ek will set up like a screen. But when the play is deeper in the zone, he will swing his stick in a way that potentially creates a deflection.
“He really does the dirty work in front”, trio mate Marcus Foligno noted. “He’s just been amazing all season.”
Foligno returned to action against the Jets after serving a two-game suspension for taking a knee in Winnipeg Adam Lowry February 8.
It was the first suspension of Foligno’s 11-year NHL career.
During his hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, the winger explained his version of the incident and the league shared his views. wild general manager Bill Guerin and Foligno’s agent were also part of the conference, and Foligno said the two-game ban came about an hour later.
“It is what it is,” he said.
During the meeting, the Foligno team mentioned that the physicality and play in the game stemmed from non-penalized control on Foligno by the Jets. Brenden Dillon in the first half that the Wild felt behind and caught off guard by Foligno.
It wasn’t the first meeting between Foligno and Dillon this season. In the teams’ first clash on October 19, the two fought – a fight that included a superman punch from Foligno.
“He obviously didn’t like what I did to him all season and rightly so,” Foligno said. “I’m a big boy. I can manage in this situation. It’s a success that if someone is smaller than me, it could end in an uglier situation. It’s things you don’t want no see.
“I’m not afraid of being touched. It’s so Kirill [Kaprizov] is affected or [Mats Zuccarello] is hit or someone of that nature.”
Kaapo Kahkonen saved Cam Talbot Wednesday as the Wild continued to rotate their goaltenders, but Kahkonen has a chance to make history in his next appearance.
After supporting the Wild on Monday against Detroit, Kahkonen tied Pekka Rinné for most wins by a Finnish-born rookie goalie at age 30.
Although Kahkonen is in his third season with the Wild, he is still considered a rookie by NHL standards because he hasn’t played more than 25 games in a single previous season and he is under 26 (25).