Rookie Kahkonen sets Wild record in second start

Kaapo Kahkonen, Wild goalie (↑ UP)

Kahkonen, who made 32 saves last week in his NHL debut, looked even better in Game 2 on Tuesday. The 23-year-old made 44 saves — a franchise rookie record — backstopping the Wild to a 4-2 win over the high-scoring Florida Panthers. He’s just the third rookie in franchise history to make 40-plus saves in a single game and has now allowed just two goals on 71 shots at 5-on-5. A fourth-round pick in 2014, Kahkonen spent several seasons in his native Finland’s top league before joining the Iowa Wild last season. He led the AHL with six shutouts as a rookie, and is 7-2-1 this season with a .909 SV% and a 2.47 GAA while splitting time with newcomer Mat Robson.

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Zach Parise, Wild forward (↑ UP)

The Wild stretched their point streak to 10 games on Tuesday and Parise, who picked up the primary assist on Carson Soucy’s game-winner, has been leading the way. Parise is tied for second in the league with eight goals since the Wild’s point streak began Nov. 14 and leads the Wild with 11 points over that span.

Jared Moe & Jack LaFontaine, Gophers goalies (↓ DOWN)

LaFontaine, a junior transfer, and Moe, a freshman, were having a fairly respectable first season between the pipes for unranked Minnesota before No. 3 North Dakota came to town last week. The Fighting Hawks scored a whopping nine goals Thursday — the most any team has ever scored at 3M Arena at Mariucci, which opened in 1993 — sweeping the Gophers in Minneapolis for the first time since 2007. LaFontaine was pulled after giving up five goals in 24 minutes Thursday, while Moe allowed four before ceding the net to freshman Justen Close. Moe got the start in Friday’s series finale, making 19 saves on 22 shots, but the Gophers fell short in a much more competitive 3-2 loss.

P.J. Fleck, Gophers football coach (↔ EVEN)

Wisconsin reclaimed Paul Bunyan’s Axe and moves on to the Big Ten title game, but Fleck earned a nice bit of recognition Tuesday, as his peers in the Big Ten voted the Gophers boss the conference’s coach of the year.

Keita Bates-Diop, Wolves forward (↑ UP)

Bates-Diop reached double-digits in scoring for the fourth straight game Sunday, and has emerged as a valuable member of the Wolves’ rotation over the past few weeks. The second-year forward is shooting 56.3% from the field and 50% from deep in eight appearances this season and scored a career-high 22 points Nov. 23 in a two-point loss to the Suns.

Dalvin Cook, Vikings running back (↓ DOWN)

Cook expects to be ready for Week 14, but the prospect of the explosive running back missing time or being at less than 100% down the stretch remains concerning. Cook rushed nine times for 29 yards and caught three passes for 35 yards during the Vikings’ 37-30 loss to the Seahawks, scoring a rushing touchdown in the second quarter before exiting in the third.

Anthony Harris, Vikings safety (↑ UP)

Harris made one of the most impressive plays of his five-year career Monday against the Seahawks, becoming just the fourth player this season to pick off Russell Wilson. Defensive tackle Armon Watts tipped Wilson’s pass at the line in the second quarter, before the quarterback swatted the ball into the waiting arms of Harris, who ran the ball 20 yards back for a touchdown.

Jared Spurgeon, Wild defenseman (↓ DOWN)

Spurgeon exited Minnesota’s win over the Panthers in the first period with an upper-body injury. The veteran defenseman currently ranks fourth on the team with 16 points. An extended absence could mean trouble for Minnesota, which ranks second in the NHL with 17 points since their point streak began on Nov. 14, and is now 7-0-3 over that stretch.