Wild coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t relay to his players General Manager Bill Guerin’s post-trade proclamation that others will join Jason Zucker on the move if the team packs in its playoff push.
Boudreau didn’t even read Guerin’s comments until about a half-hour before puck drop Tuesday night.
But it sure looked as if Guerin’s message reached the locker room because the Wild replied with one of its most methodical takedowns of the season, a spotless 4-0 shutout of the Vegas Golden Knights in front of 17,112 at Xcel Energy Center that lifted the team four points back of a playoff spot amid a 7-3 run.
“Guys get traded when you’re winning, [and] guys get traded when you’re losing,” winger Zach Parise said. “I don’t think it was any extra motivation since he said that. I bet you half the team doesn’t even know. But when a trade like that is made, everyone is on notice as it is. So it’s a little bit of an eye-opener, and we responded well.”
Despite losing a longtime teammate to the Penguins in a deal that returned winger Alex Galchenyuk, defensive prospect Calen Addison and a first-round pick, the Wild didn’t pout. Instead, the players took a businesslike approach as Guerin hoped they would — exactly the type of focus that can help the team keep climbing, especially if the current catalysts continue to deliver.
Kevin Fiala extended his best stretch of hockey since joining the Wild last year, posting a season-high three-point effort after finishing with a goal and two assists to make it five goals and five assists during a five-game point streak.
“I’m very excited when I have the puck when I’m on the ice,” he said. “Just try to do something out there to help the team.”
Goalie Alex Stalock recorded his third shutout of the season, a 26-save showing, and special teams were perfect. The Wild killed off all four Vegas power plays, while its power play was dynamic — scoring a season-high three goals for the second time this season.
“The way Kevin’s playing is really sort of helping it out a lot,” Boudreau said. “He’s sort of the motor right now.”
The unit got the scoring parade started 5 minutes, 30 seconds into the first period when Joel Eriksson Ek, getting a rare look with the man advantage, slung in a wrist shot for his first career power-play goal.
On its second power play, Jared Spurgeon buried a Fiala rebound at 12:44.
In the second period, Fiala poked in a loose puck at 9:11 to put the Wild up 3-0. His 14 goals are his most since he had a career-high 23 in 2017-18. Parise earned an assist on the play, the 400th of his career.
Before the period ended, the Wild tacked on another at 15:47 — this one a power-play marker from Parise off a one-timer. Parise’s six power-play goals since Jan. 14 lead the NHL.
As for Fiala, he tied a career high with three points after assisting on Parise’s goal. Since Feb. 4, he leads the NHL with 10 points and six power-play points.
Over the past 11 games, the Wild’s power play has amassed a whopping 15 goals in 34 chances — an impressive 44% efficiency.
Golden Knights goalie Malcolm Subban took over in the third, making five saves in relief of Marc-Andre Fleury. He left after 16 stops.
As for Galchenyuk, he played 12:26 in his Wild debut — a new chapter for him, but the night also felt like a turning point for the entire team.
“It’s tough when you see guys leave,” winger Marcus Foligno said, “but we’re still in it and the mood is still up in this room as it should be. It is what it is. It’s the business of the game. But we’re still a really good hockey team.”