This isn't the first time it's been tough for Kirill Kaprizov to score.
He's been challenged before, in the KHL and at World Juniors; Kaprizov even remembers getting chased on the ice.
"It's a good thing that they're following you around," he said in Russian through an interpreter. "It means you have an opportunity to do something. It means you're an impactful player. Just got to find a way to get it done."
That chance to make a difference still exists.
Kaprizov's had a quiet series against Dallas, but he can change that Friday night, when the Wild face a must-win Game 6 at Xcel Energy Center to stave off elimination in this best-of-seven after falling behind 3-2.
"For me personally, obviously it's a bit frustrating," Kaprizov said. "But I'm confident this next game I should break through and be able to help out the team and do more on my end."
If this feels like the longest rut of Kaprizov's NHL career, that's because it is.
He hasn't scored a goal since the first period of Game 1 and didn't factor into the offense at all in Games 2-5, this four-game dry spell the most he's been held without a point since he debuted with the Wild in 2021. Before this, the winger had three three-game skids but none exclusively in the playoffs.
Through six games last postseason, Kaprizov had a league-high seven goals. The Wild were in the same spot as they are now, on the brink of getting bounced from the first round, but Kaprizov being stymied like this is unusual.
His 14 shots are tied for the second most on the Wild, while his 20 scoring chances, according to Natural Stat Trick, are tops. And yet 17 players in the series have produced more than him.
"There's definitely some responsibility on my end to play better, of course," said Kaprizov, who racked up 40 goals and 35 assists for a team-high 75 points in 67 regular-season games. "I feel that. Of course, I feel that I need to perform better. But it's not something I want to dwell on, and it's not something I want to think about. It's not going to make it better.
"I've got to go out there, and I've got to play my game. If I do that, I think it'll turn, and the goals will come."
Before getting held out of the Wild's regular-season finale to rest, Kaprizov played just twice after missing a month with a lower-body injury from an awkward tumble to the ice under a check from Winnipeg's Logan Stanley. He's absorbed 15 hits in this series from the Stars, the most levied against any Wild forward, and he was pelted with crosschecks from former Wild defenseman Ryan Suter in Game 1.
Asked if he was playing hurt, Kaprizov said, "No, I feel great; 100 percent."
In the past, he's tackled adversity by passing to open teammates, and those players alongside Kaprizov in Game 6 might not be his usual linemates.
Ryan Hartman and Mats Zuccarello didn't practice Thursday, both taking maintenance days. Coach Dean Evason said he hopes everyone is available for Game 6, but he also mentioned how the team has discussed scrambling its lineup. During Thursday's session, Kaprizov took reps with Marcus Johansson.
"You gotta find your fellow teammates," said Kaprizov, who turned 26 on Wednesday. "Do the dirty work, get the dirty goal, grind through and if I do the little things right, if I do the little things correctly, usually the other stuff, the goals, the pretty goals start coming and you start playing the game you want to play."
With his average ice time at 23 minutes, Kaprizov is typically in action for more than a third of the game.
He's been idle when the Wild's penalty kill has been peppered with goals, but he is on the stagnant power play and the Wild have the edge in goals and shots at 5-on-5 when he's on the ice.
That means Kaprizov might not be the answer to every question, but he can still solve some of the Wild's problems.
What better time than right now, when their season is on the line?
"Playoff hockey is all about kind of figuring each other out, and that's kind of what's happening," Kaprizov said. "They're figuring us out. We're figuring them out as we continue throughout the series. Obviously, their power play is clicking right now. Ours not so much. Penalty kill also needs some work.
"But it really comes down to the small things here and there that maybe they're doing better than us but we can obviously, as well, do on our end to get back to our game, to do the small things right and get a victory."