SAN JOSE, CALIF. – Goals were in short supply for the Wild going into and coming out of the team's COVID-19 shutdown.
Not so much anymore.
The offense delivered its best performance of the season, lifting the Wild over the Sharks 6-2 on Monday at SAP Center for the team's third consecutive victory — a run in which the Wild has scored 14 times.
"All lines are going right now," Marcus Foligno said, "and everyone's finding each other."
Foligno recorded the third Gordie Howe hat trick of his career, following up a first-period fight with a goal and assist, and the Kirill Kaprizov-Victor Rask-Mats Zuccarello line remained in-sync — combining for nine points after collecting five the previous game.
Zuccarello had four points, matching his career high accomplished only one other time (Oct.7, 2017, at Toronto).
"It feels good when the puck finds you," Zuccarello said. "That's a good feeling, and obviously it feels good to help contribute to the win."
Other standouts included winger-turned-center Ryan Hartman, who assisted on two goals, and defenseman Ian Cole tallied his first goal with the Wild.
Kaapo Kahkonen, who's been in net this entire season-long win streak, racked up 31 saves.
"Obviously, we had a little trouble scoring goals earlier in the season," Cole said. "But we always knew we had the skill and depth to do it."
This latest outburst by the offense, which has coincided with the Wild welcoming more regulars back to its lineup from the COVID-19 outbreak that stalled the season for six games, came in comeback mode.
Just 45 seconds into the first period, San Jose's Brent Burns chipped the puck behind Jonas Brodin and went to his backhand to capitalize on the Sharks' first shot on Kahkonen.
But then the Wild's most dynamic line of late took over.
Kaprizov and Rask set up Zuccarello for his second goal in as many games at 7:49 and then on the very next shift, Zuccarello found Kaprizov for a tap-in past San Jose goalie Martin Jones just 11 seconds later.
The goals tied the franchise record for the fastest two goals on the road, tying the pair of tallies by Mattias Weinhandl and Wes Walz on April 15, 2006, at Dallas.
Before the period let out, Foligno fought the Sharks' Nikolai Knyzhov and actually motioned for the officials to break up the scrap after Knyzhov was bleeding by his left eye.
"I've had guys let up on me before," Foligno said. "It's just respectful."
As soon as Foligno exited the penalty box in the second period after serving the five-minute fighting major, he was on the ice — helping spark the next wave of offense.
His pass to Hartman ended up working its way to Cole, who buried the puck off the rush at 3:36 of the second to put the Wild up 3-1.
And then at 10:48, Foligno shot a Hartman pass that clipped San Jose's Nicolas Meloche and floated by Jones to complete the Gordie Howe hat trick.
With two assists, Hartman notched his first multi-point game of the season and he has four points (including one goal) during a three-game point streak that ties his career high.
Former Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk replaced Jones after Foligno's goal; Jones exited with 16 saves, and Dubnyk made 12 in relief.
After the switch, the Sharks responded — with captain Logan Couture pulling the puck from behind the net and stuffing it past Kahkonen at 11:57.
But before the second ended, the Wild reinstated its three-goal cushion.
Brodin scored in the waning seconds of a four-minute power play, handcuffing Dubnyk's glove hand at 17:25 for the Wild's fifth power play goal of the season and Brodin's first with the man advantage since Dec.15, 2016 at Nashville. Overall, the Wild went 1-for-3 and the Sharks were 0-for-3.
Zuccarello and Rask earned assists on the goal, and their line with Kaprizov finished with nine points after Rask scored into an empty net with 3:03 to go in the third; Zuccarello earned an assist on the play.
During a three-game point streak, Zuccarello has seven points and is one shy from 400 in his career. As for Rask, he has six points in his past four games and this was his second two-point effort of the season.
And Kaprizov leads NHL rookies in assists (nine) and points (13) aside from being the Wild's leading scorer.
"They got a lot of confidence," coach Dean Evason said of the line. "But what we're happy with is we started them in the 'D' zone, as well, a few times and they did the right things to get out of our zone. They're using their skill up the ice, obviously, to produce offense, but they're also exiting our zone very well."