Wild’s Brock Faber climbs rookie charts, Filip Gustavsson solid early: Key takeaways vs. Capitals

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Brock Faber and Marcus Foligno scored twice within the first five minutes, former two-time Washington Capitals forward Marcus Johansson scored two goals and Joel Eriksson Ek scored a goal and assist as the Wild defeated the Washington Capitals, 5-2, Tuesday night for their fourth win in the past five games. Filip Gustavsson made 31 saves for his 13th victory as the Wild opened a three-game homestand at Xcel Energy Center. It was the Wild’s second straight home win after losing six in a row in Minnesota.

  • Freddy Gaudreau returned after missing two games with an injury.
  • Eleven of 18 Wild skaters had a point.
  • The Wild improved to 6-1-1 in their past eight meetings with Washington. Kirill Kaprizov and Alex Ovechkin faced each other for the fourth time in their careers. Neither has a goal in any of the meetings and Kaprizov, who had 10 goals in his previous 10 games, had no shots.
  • The Wild host the Predators and Ducks on Thursday and Saturday night, respectively, before their bye week and the All-Star break.

Faber climbing rookie charts

With his goal 97 seconds into the contest, Faber established a new Wild rookie record for defensemen by recording a point for a fifth consecutive game. Willie Mitchell and Filip Kuba had four-game point streaks way back in the inaugural 2000-1 season. Faber, tied with teammate Marco Rossi for second in the NHL in rookie scoring with 28 points, is now tied with Kurtis Foster for the third-most points in a season by a Wild rookie defenseman. He’s one point behind Calen Addison and two behind Kuba’s rookie record for defensemen. Faber’s big game came a day after it was announced Connor Bedard, the Calder Trophy frontrunner before he broke his jaw, will be out for at least another six weeks.

Gustavsson looked solid until late

Fresh off a scintillating 40-save performance in Raleigh and holding on for a big win at Florida after John Hynes called timeout in an effort to calm the troops, Gustavsson made a number of big stops in the second period against the Capitals. The Wild built him a 3-0 lead before Anthony Mantha scored on a backdoor tap-in, but with the game suddenly tense with Washington pushing hard and Darcy Kuemper robbing Ryan Hartman and Jonas Brodin on some Grade A chances, Gustavsson preserved the Wild’s two-goal lead heading into the third with six saves off quality chances in the final 10 minutes of the second. He was calm in net and controlled his rebounds as he continued to return to the form we all saw him play at before he was injured on Dec. 30 in Winnipeg. Unfortunately for him, the Caps scored twice late to turn a dandy into a three-goal-against game.

Eriksson Ek continues to be Wild’s ‘most important player’

The Wild’s first-round exit last spring against Dallas got lumped in with all the others, but there’s a reason why former coach Dean Evason called Eriksson Ek the Wild’s “most important player.” His loss to a broken leg in April was devastating to a team that lacks center depth. Eriksson Ek returned this season and immediately demonstrated that he is truly the Wild’s “Mr. Everything.” Friday night, Eriksson Ek hit the 20-goal mark for the third consecutive season in just 47 games (turned into the winning goal) and is on pace for a career-high 35 goals. The once first-round pick also extended his point streak to five games with five goals and five assists.

Three stars

1. Brock Faber, Wild: His defensive game has slipped according to the underlying numbers this month, but he put forth a masterpiece beyond his goal Tuesday. He wasn’t on the ice for a goal, wasn’t on the ice for a five-on-five shot off the rush until late in the second period and put on a Corsi clinic in the first 40 minutes.
2. Matt Boldy, Wild: Assisted on one goal and was simply solid in all phases of the game.
3. Marcus Foligno, Wild: Scored one goal and assisted on Eriksson Ek’s 20th goal during a superb game while playing left wing on Minnesota’s second line.

(Photo: Nick Wosika / USA Today)

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