DETROIT – Wild interim coach Dean Evason didn’t spend too much time Thursday morning reminding his players not to get bogged down by a bottom-feeder.
He just mentioned that it doesn’t matter when, where and who the Wild plays. The focus is all on how it performs.
And it certainly looked like that message was received by the players since they responded with a methodical rout of the last-place Red Wings – overwhelming them 7-1 at Little Caesars Arena to secure their fourth win over their last five games.
The Wild is three points shy of a playoff spot.
“Sometimes these games are tough,” goalie Alex Stalock said. “… [But] we had three big goals early. We were working. We were getting in on the forecheck. We’re playing a fast game right now. We’re getting pucks out of our zone fast. We talk about less time in our zone creates more in their zone, so hopefully we keep this going.”
From a team perspective, this was one of the most memorable outcomes of the season.
Seven goals were the most it scored in franchise history vs. the Red Wings. This was the team’s most lopsided road victory of the season. And the Wild extended its win streak on the road to four games, improving to 6-2 in its last eight contests as the visitor.
What’s more, this was the fourth time the team has scored seven or more goals in a game this season – the most that’s happened in a season team history. The Wild is also just one of five NHL teams to have at least four seven-plus goal games this season.
And while contributions came from all over the lineup, with 13 players registering at least a point, there were a few individuals who were especially key.
Winger Kevin Fiala continued his torrid play of late, tallying three points.
After setting up the Wild’s third goal, Fiala scored No.6 late in the second and then assisted on the seventh in the third period.
His three-point performance tied his career high; he had another three-point game earlier this season. Fiala’s 27 assists are also the most in his career for a season, and his 45 points are tied for the most on the Wild with center Eric Staal. Fiala’s just three points away from matching his career best of 48.
Over his last 12 games, Fiala has 17 points – including nine goals.
“It's awesome,” defenseman Matt Dumba said. “I think everyone has been preaching to Kevin if he can just have that poise and skill and just keep doing what he's doing, he's so valuable to our team.”
Dumba also had a three-point game that included a pair of goals.
One of those came on the power play, his first of the season in that situation. This was also his sixth career multi-goal game and first since Dec.11, 2018.
“They went in tonight,” Dumba said of his shot.
In a game headlined by offense, the defensive play and goaltending can get overshadowed. But this was another win for Stalock.
He’s now 6-1-1 in his last eight starts with a 1.98 goals-against average and .925 save percentage.
It’ll be interesting to see if interim coach Dean Evason splits the back-to-back and tabs goalie Devan Dubnyk for Friday’s tilt in Columbus or goes back to Stalock after his 25-save showing.