NASHVILLE – It looked like Wild winger Kevin Fiala was ready for a performance like this.
After playing what he called “a pretty good game” Sunday in his first matchup against his former team since the Feb.25 trade that sent him to the Wild from the Predators, Fiala had his best game in a new uniform Tuesday when he scored twice to help the Wild snag a point in a 5-4 shootout loss at Bridgestone Arena – an encouraging sign for the team that one of its top-six newcomers is getting more comfortable.
“I feel I’m a player if I have confidence from the coach, I can play with more confidence and give [Bruce Boudreau] more,” Fiala said. “I feel it now. I’m very thankful, for sure, that he’s given me this opportunity so far. I just want to give him something back, as well as [General Manager] Paul Fenton like I said in the past. Just work hard every day. That’s what I can do. Everything else will fall into place.”
Fiala has certainly been given the chance to settle in with his new surroundings; he’s logged at least 17 minutes a game in all four contests, topping out at 19:16 Tuesday. He’s been a regular on the power play, and getting these regular reps seems to be paying off.
“I’m so happy for him,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “You looked at how hard he played last game in Minnesota. He wanted one so bad, and he made some great plays and there were some big saves. … It’s pretty exciting to see the way he’s moving right now.”
This was the second straight game center Eric Fehr chipped in a goal to put a spotlight on how solid the effort has been lately from him and fellow fourth liners Marcus Foligno and J.T. Brown.
“Our line as a whole is reading off each other really well right now,” Fehr said. “We're pressuring their ‘D’ to make bad decisions, and we're taking advantage of that. Our last couple of games we've had a lot of really good looks, all three of us, and lucky we were able to get a couple."
The Predators evened it at three soon after Fehr’s goal in the third period when captain Roman Josi cut to the net and slung a forehand shot by Dubnyk.
“I was deep in my net,” Dubnyk said. “You don’t want to let a guy take it into the crease and go backhand forehand, but that’s going to happen sometimes.”
As for the fourth goal, a rush by winger Viktor Arvidsson, Dubnyk said, “I wouldn’t change anything I did on it. I was on him. I was in the right spot and unfortunately, he found a way through my armpit. But I didn’t open up.”
Winger Jason Zucker said he was fine after leaving the game briefly in the third when his right leg was taken out by Predators winger Craig Smith, who slid into Zucker. He and the rest of the team will be off Wednesday before its three-game road trip continues Thursday in Tampa Bay against the NHL-leading Lightning.
“It was just a little bit weird,” Zucker said. “I saw him coming, sliding, and I couldn’t get out of the way. It was just a weird play.”