ANAHEIM, Calif. – Kevin Fiala was upset.
He was a non-factor in a forgettable loss to the worst team in the Western Conference on Saturday, finishing a minus-4 in nearly 20 minutes of ice time to go pointless for the first time in seven games.
“Didn’t play good enough at all,” Fiala said.
However, he didn’t have to wait long to redeem himself.
Fiala scored twice, including his first career regular-season overtime goal, to shake off Anaheim 5-4 Sunday night in front of an announced 15,948 at Honda Center and lift the Wild back into a playoff spot with its eighth victory in 11 games.
At 77 points, the Wild sits in the first wild-card position — one point ahead of Vancouver, Nashville, and Winnipeg.
“If you have a bad game, you have to just drop it — especially now in the situation we are in,” Fiala said of the Wild’s 7-3 wakeup-call loss to Los Angeles. “… Obviously, [Saturday] night hurt a lot. But I think we did a good job to just drop it and go for this one.”
As he circled the net late in overtime, Fiala was tripped up by the Ducks’ Josh Manson to put the Wild on a 4-on-3 power play with barely a minute left.
After a faceoff victory by Luke Kunin, the Wild worked the puck to Fiala, and he didn’t miss from the right side — wiring the puck past goalie Ryan Miller with 55 seconds to go. It was Fiala’s 23rd goal of the season, tying his career high, and he has 14 goals and 26 points over the past 18 games. Since Feb. 4, his seven power play goals are the most in the NHL.
“I had a lot of time to just walk in and pick my spot,” said Fiala, who has a pair of playoff overtime goals with Nashville.
But Fiala wasn’t the only Wild player vindicated.
Down 3-2 going into the third period, Victor Rask delivered the equalizer on a shot off the rush at 1:49 — his first goal since Dec. 27 in his first appearance in eight games after being a healthy scratch.
And at 14:20, the Wild moved ahead 4-3 when Alex Galchenyuk converted on an errant Ducks pass for his second goal in three games — this after he caused two turnovers Saturday that led to two Kings goals.
“I had that one shift that I wish I didn’t have, but it’s a game of hockey,” said Galchenyuk, who also had an assist. “A lot of things can change in one day. You just make sure you forget it and work hard, and we’re happy as a group we got this win. It was a big one for us.”
With 1:42 left in regulation, the Ducks tied it on a one-timer by Christian Djoos with Miller pulled for an extra attacker. But the Wild stayed composed to secure four out of a possible six points on this three-game California road trip.
“The standings are so tight,” Galchenyuk said. “It would have been really devastating coming out of this building without a win. We needed points more than them, and we got it done.”
Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg opened the scoring at 11:18 of the first, but the Wild responded only 12:02 later on Mats Zuccarello’s first goal in 18 games.
The Ducks issued a coach’s challenge to determine if there was goaltender interference on the play, but Galchenyuk clipped Miller’s pad outside the crease so the goal stood. On the Wild’s ensuing power play, Fiala went top shelf at 13:33, but a shaky second by the team flipped the lead.
Danton Heinen’s shot slipped between Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk and the near post at 11:52, and Silfverberg’s shot handcuffed him only 3:03 after that.
“Bad goal by me,” Dubnyk said. “Probably the third one’s stoppable, too.”
Like the others, though, Dubnyk got a chance to persevere and ended up making 22 saves in his first start in eight games. Miller stopped 25 shots.
“It was gutsy,” Dubnyk said. “Guys just didn’t give up. They haven’t this year.”