SEATTLE – Rem Pitlick didn’t play during the Minnesota Wild’s inaugural game against the Seattle Kraken.
He was sidelined after testing positive for COVID-19 a day before the Oct. 28 puck drop, an absence that lasted until a week ago.
Pitlick’s second trip to Seattle was also notable but for a different reason.
The Wild newcomer scored a natural hat trick, including his first NHL goal, in a 4-2 victory on Saturday at Climate Pledge Arena that wrapped the team’s road trip with two victories out of three games.
Overall, the Wild is 5-1 over its past six contests.
Goaltender Cam Talbot made 28 saves, and center Ryan Hartman — like Pitlick — racked up three points after he set up all Pitlick’s goals.
Pitlick is the first Wild player and 31st player in NHL history to record a hat trick in the same game that included his first NHL goal.
That finish came 12 minutes, 33 seconds into the first period after Hartman chased down an Alex Goligoski clearing attempt and centered it for a Pitlick redirect that trickled over the goal line for Pitlick’s first career goal.
His second came at 7:44 of the second when Hartman ran into the Kraken’s Jared McCann to knock the puck loose and since McCann fell down after the collision, Pitlick scooped up the puck for a breakaway that he buried behind goalie Philipp Grubauer.
Then, with 40 seconds to go in the second, Hartman set up Pitlick for another breakaway — this time reaching Pitlick with a stretch pass that Pitlick deked before releasing from his forehand, the same move he executed on his previous goal.
The hat trick, which was celebrated by a smattering of hats hitting the ice, was the 32nd in Wild history from the 19th player and the second this season for the Wild; Joel Eriksson Ek had the other on Oct. 19 vs. Winnipeg.
This career highlight came in Pitlick’s 16th NHL game and only his fifth with the Wild, which claimed the former Gophers standout from Plymouth off waivers from Nashville during training camp. Earlier in the trip, at Arizona, Pitlick picked up an assist in his second game back after returning from COVID-19.
After his three-goal outburst, Pitlick now ranks among the top goal producers on the team; only Hartman (seven), Eriksson Ek (five) and Marcus Foligno (five) have more goals.
Not until 9:19 of the third period did the Kraken finally push a puck behind Talbot, a power play goal from former Wild player Marcus Johansson. That was Seattle’s second of three power plays; the Wild went 0-for-1.
Nico Sturm added an empty-net goal with 5:06 to go before Alex Wennberg scored at 18:59.
Assigning Pitlick to play with Hartman, who was back at center after a stint on the wing, was one of the tweaks the Wild made after the 3-2 loss at Las Vegas on Thursday. And the line, which also featured Jordan Greenway, clicked, with Hartman’s versatility once again on display.
Not only has Hartman switched positions throughout the season, but he’s managed to capitalize alongside different linemates. Hartman continues to lead the Wild in goals and now is tied with Kirill Kaprizov for the most points on the team (11) after racking up seven in his past five games and nine over his past eight. This was his third career three-point game.
“He’s what our hockey club is supposed to be about,” coach Dean Evason said before the game. “Who cares where you play, when you play, where you play, who you play? You just play the same way. He does that, goes about his business. He leads in that department, and it doesn’t matter. There’s not one time he asks where he’s playing. He sees it and just goes and does it.”
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