It’s no secret that the start to Kaapo Kakko’s NHL career got off to a bit of a rocky start as the young Finnish winger adjusted to life in North America. As the days carried on though, you could sense the uptick in confidence as Kakko carried the puck a little bit more, and started producing points.
That led us to November 12, 2019 where Kaapo Kakko registered his first career multi-goal game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on national television.
It took just seven minutes into regulation for the Kaapo party to get started at Madison Square Garden. Brendan Lemieux found Kakko in behind two Penguins’ defenders after a line change, and the 18-year old flew down the ice on a breakaway. A quick move to the backhand was all he needed to fool Matt Murray, and the Rangers took control with an early lead.
Fast forward to the overtime period, the Rangers found themselves in a precarious situation as Adam Fox, Kaapo Kakko, and Pavel Buchnevich jumped over the boards. David Quinn was clearly rewarding the trio with the game on the line, and boy, did they deliver. Almost immediately, Adam Fox generated a 3-on-2 rush the other way and found Kaapo Kakko all alone on the back post. Kakko did an excellent job of finding the soft spot in coverage, and continued in a straight line towards the net with his stick on the ice the entire time.
The goal sent Madison Square Garden into frenzy, and gave the Rangers two massive points after coughing up a third period lead. It was also a bit of a coming out party for Kakko, and we saw that confidence carry over into the coming months of the regular season.