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Kaprizov's hat trick gives Wild 4-3 win over Sharks to stop 3-game skid

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Kirill Kaprizov posted his second hat trick in less than two weeks, scoring the go-ahead goal with 3:59 left to lift the Minnesota Wild past the San Jose Sharks 4-3 on Sunday.

Frederick Gaudreau also scored for the first time in 24 games the Wild, who outshot the Sharks 32-15 and leaned on their star left wing Kaprizov to stop a three-game losing streak.

“He’s got all the skills. He’s fast. He’s strong. But what makes him one of the best in the world is that he competes every single day,” Gaudreau said.

All three Sharks goals against Filip Gustavsson, who finished with 12 saves, were unassisted after sloppy turnovers. Former Wild centers Mikael Granlund (power play) and Nico Sturm (short-handed) each scored to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead in the second period. Anthony Duclair made it 3-2 for San Jose off a breakaway just 23 seconds into the third period.

Kaprizov then showed why he was by far the best player on the ice all night, with the equalizer about two minutes later and the winner after that on a wrist shot that eluded Sharks goalie Kaapo Kahkonen.

“They’ve got Kaprizov, and we don’t. That really was the difference," Sharks coach David Quinn said. "He scores goals a lot of guys can’t score in this league.”

Kaprizov matched Marian Gaborik (2002-03) and Zach Parise (2015-16) as the only other Wild players with three hat tricks in a season. He leads the Wild with 29 goals this season.

In his 258th game, he also became the fifth-fastest player in NHL history to notch 300 career points, behind Sidney Crosby (219), Alex Ovechkin (237), Connor McDavid (240) and Evgeni Malkin (240).

“He loves the game of hockey. The thing I really respect is sometimes guys just like to play the game," Wild coach John Hynes said. "But Kirill is in great shape, he’s a coachable guy, he’s a great teammate, he practices really well, and he’s an extreme competitor.”

The Wild stumbled home after two damaging defeats on the road, to wild card competitors Nashville on Thursday and St. Louis on Saturday, that shoved them further back in the race.

“We can’t really look too far and always keep looking at the standings,” Gaudreau said. “We don’t really control that. We control only our next game.”

Minnesota is eight points out of the final spot, in 11th place in the Western Conference.

“We’ll see what happens in the end of the season,” Kaprizov said.

The Sharks (15-39-6), who have been on a fast track toward their fifth consecutive absence from the Stanley Cup playoffs, have the second-worst record in the NHL ahead of only Chicago. Their points percentage is the fourth-lowest since the league added shootouts in the 2005-06 season.

Both teams had only 11 available forwards. The Wild were without Mats Zuccarello (personal reasons) and Marcus Johansson (lower body injury) after both players skated the night before. This was Johansson's first scratch of the season. The Sharks put defenseman Calen Addison on the fourth line right wing, with William Eklund sidelined by an illness.

With Granlund, Sturm, Kahkonen, Addison and center Luke Kunin, the Sharks had five former Minnesota players in their lineup — all of whom the Wild traded to other teams.

Kahkonen had 28 saves and is 0-7-1 in his last eight starts. The Sharks are 1-7-2 in their last nine games.

“We didn’t have a lot of energy today,” Sturm said, citing an illness that has been spreading around the club. “I think you could see that.”

UP NEXT

Sharks: Host Dallas on Tuesday.

Wild: Visit Arizona on Thursday.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL

Dave Campbell, The Associated Press