Winger Kevin Fiala’s first home game with the Wild was also his first meeting with his former team, and those circumstances coincided with Fiala’s most assertive performance to date in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Predators Sunday at Xcel Energy Center.
“I thought he had a couple great chances,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Hopefully at some point, he's going to put those in. He put some great moves out to get there. I still think a lot of our forwards sometimes cheat to try to get goals. He's not by himself. There's a whole lot of guys that do that.”
Fiala’s four shots were tied for the most on the Wild, and he logged 19 minutes, 4 seconds of ice time – his highest in three games since he was traded from Nashville to the Wild in exchange for forward Mikael Granlund last Monday.
“I was close there a couple times,” Fiala said. “But the goalie, [Juuse Saros], he’s a good goalie. I know that. Today he got lucky, and next game let’s see.”
That reunion will come quickly, as Fiala and the Wild will be in Nashville to take on the Predators Tuesday – a trip that Fiala expects will stir up more emotion.
“It was fun to play against them instead of waiting till next season,” he said.
The evening was also special for Granlund, who was greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd after a video tribute played during a first-period TV timeout.
“It was awesome to see the way the fans reacted to that,” he said. “It felt good. It was a good feeling.”
Granlund said it felt weird to report to the visiting locker room rather than the home one, but he started to settle in as the action progressed.
“It’s just nice I got this over with this quickly, and now I don’t need to worry about this first game here anymore and kind of move on,” he said.
Winger Zach Parise played 20:01 in his return to the lineup. Parise missed Saturday’s game after blocking a shot with his foot Tuesday in the win over the Jets.
“I was a little leery about him at first,” Boudreau said. “But I thought he got better as the game went on. That’s why I didn’t want to kill him with penalties, didn’t want him blocking shots with his feet again.”
Jason Zucker scored his third goal in his last four games, a surge in production amid a concerted effort by the winger to unleash more pucks on goal.
“Just trying to be around the net,” Zucker said. “Just trying to get shots off. I’m trying to get my shot count up a little more.”