ST. PAUL — Wild winger Rem Pitlick lived rent-free in the mind of Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer on Saturday night at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle.
It wasn’t so much that the 24-year-old Pitlick netted a hat trick in the game as it was the manner in which he did it.
After scoring the first goal of his career by finishing off a perfect pass from teammate Ryan Hartman, Pitlick decided he wasn’t done. He scored the second goal by beating Grubauer on a breakaway, then the third goal with the same exact move.
The breakaway move itself is something Pitlick has been working on since he was a kid.
He races into the offensive zone with a full head of steam, fakes to his backhand, then immediately brings the puck to his forehand before firing a shot on net. He used that move a couple of weeks ago, beating Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko only to fire his shot off the post.
Needless to say, Pitlick didn’t miss against Grubauer. He beat him 1-on-1 twice with very little resistance.
Asked about beating him the first time, Pitlick admitted he almost went with a different breakaway move on Grubauer the second time.
“I didn’t,” Pitlick said with a smile. “I look at it a little bit like rock, paper, scissors.”
In that same breath, Pitlick told a story about his good friend Evan Robert, who played goaltender at Shattuck-St. Mary’s when the two of them attended the Faribault, Minn., high school together.
“He always knew the move was coming and it kind of turned into a mind game,” Pitlick said. “He knew it was coming and that I was going to be doing it again. I think of it when I’m out there. I’m just like, ‘I don’t know. I’m just going to try it again, I guess.’ ”
As someone who goes against Pitlick in practice, goaltender Cam Talbot understands how tough it can be to stop his breakaway move.
“When he comes down with that much speed, and he makes that quick move, it’s pretty tough,” Talbot said. “He can beat guys in a lot of different ways when he’s in alone like that. Just give him a ton of credit for him. He went out there and did his thing.”
As Hartman noted, Pitlick would be 3-for-3 with that breakaway move this season if it wasn’t for that pesky post.
“You have to be moving fast because the goaltender has to respect the fake,” Hartman said. “He’s got it down pat right now. He knows how to score goals, and we’re happy he was able to contribute.”
Those contributions from Pitlick helped the Wild (10-4-0) finish off a 2-1-0 road trip to the West Coast. They return to the Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday night for a home game against the San Jose Sharks.