Matt Boldy leads Wild past Kraken with another hat trick
It’s impossible to be more locked in than Boldy has been over the past few weeks.
ST. PAUL -- Matt Boldy is on such a heater right now that it’s actually shocking when he doesn’t score a goal. Like over the weekend when the Minnesota Wild earned a win over the Chicago Blackhawks despite Boldy not finding the back of the net.
Naturally, Boldy made up for lost time on Monday night at Xcel Energy Center, netting a hat trick to lead the Wild to a 5-1 win over the Seattle Kraken.
It’s impossible to be more locked in than Boldy has been since Kirill Kaprizov went down with a lower-body injury on March 8. Though that moment seemingly delivered a haymaker to the Wild in their battle for playoff positioning, Boldy has picked up the slack with a whopping 11 goals.
Not bad for a budding star who doesn’t even turn 22 years old until next week.
“It’s cool to have a player of his caliber doing it at such a young age,” Jake Middleton said. “Especially with another top player out, the way he’s kind of put us on his back, it’s pretty impressive.”
Though the arrival of Marcus Johansson at the trade deadline has boosted Boldy’s production, the biggest reason he’s dominating on a nightly basis right now is mostly because he’s playing more confidently than ever. He’s finally looking to shoot more than he’s looking to pass, and when the puck leaves his stick, as coach Dean Evason noted, it looks like Boldy is trying to power it through the net.
Just look at the way Boldy completed his hat trick. He uncorked a slap shot that would’ve made Brian Rolston proud and made hats rain down for the second time in the past week.
This is precisely why Evason has been begging Boldy to shoot more this season.
“It’s a real unselfish quality, right?” Evason said. “He wants to pass instead of shoot. I think he gets now that he helps the team a lot when he scores goals. And he can score goals.”
Though the headlines belonged to Boldy — and rightfully so — the game might’ve gotten away for the Wild early on had it not been for Marc-Andre Fleury’s play between the pipes.
To say Fleury stood on his head in the first period would be an understatement. He made several big saves as the Wild struggled to find their legs against the Kraken.
“We were a little slow,” Boldy said. “That’s why he’s going to be a Hall of Famer.”
As the first period wound to a close, Middleton finally helped take the edge off, delivering a perfectly placed shot to make it 1-0. After he scored, Middleton poked fun at Boldy, joking that he was the only player that didn’t do anything on that goal.
“He kind of made me eat my words the rest of the game,” Middleton said with a laugh. “He sure looked like he knew what he was doing.”
No kidding. After a slow start by the whole team, Boldy took over the game. He went top shelf on the power play early in the second period to stretch the lead to 2-0, then about 10 minutes later unleashed a sneaky shot through traffic to make it 3-0.
“I think a good quality he has is the quickness (with which) he releases the puck,” Fleury said . “Just how he changes the angle and releases the puck. In practice he does it, too, and it catches me off guard sometimes. It’s a big thing he’s got.”
Though the game was well in hand, Boldy wasn’t done, and he promptly finished off his hat trick 50 seconds into the third period to make it 4-0.
“I don’t know,'” Boldy said when asked to explain his hot streak “It just works like that sometimes. I wish I had a better reason. It just seems to be going in.”
Though the rest of the game could’ve been more or less a victory lap for the Wild, they continued to dominate the Kraken in a preview of a potential matchup in the first round of the playoffs.
After an insurance goal from Ryan Hartman made it 5-0 midway through the third period, Kraken winger Jaden Schwartz spoiled the shutout with a goal to finalize the score at 5-1.
As for Boldy, his humbleness was on display post game as he made sure to credited his linemates for his recent success. How has he handled the attention as of late?
“It doesn’t change much,” Boldy said. “Same kid I was in February when things weren’t going in.”
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