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Predators looking to fill void without Kevin Fiala

Colin Wilson will take spot on line after forward fractured femur against Blues on Wednesday

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- The Nashville Predators are preparing to move on without forward Kevin Fiala, who fractured his left femur on Wednesday and will miss the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Fiala took a hit from St. Louis Blues defenseman Robert Bortuzzo and hit the end boards in the second period of Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round. Fiala was taken off of the ice on a stretcher and had surgery at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

"It's a tough loss, there's no question," Predators captain Mike Fisher said. "Everything went well I guess and he's doing well. That's the main concern. He's one of those guys that's played really, really well so far in the playoffs and is a big part of our team. To lose a guy like that is definitely tough but glad he's doing OK." 

Fiala, 20, the No. 11 pick by the Predators in the 2014 NHL Draft, became a regular in the lineup down the stretch of the regular season and scored two goals in the Western Conference First Round sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks, including in overtime of Game 3. 

"[Fiala's] gone through a process where he finally had some stick and was a guy that we were counting on," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "He was now on a power play, he was now in the top-six mix, he was now taking down 16 or 17 minutes a night, and he's earned that. He's worked hard, he loves the game, works hard at it in practice. 

"He wants to get better, and it was getting to a point where he really was a difference-maker with the puck on his stick, as you saw in that overtime goal in the first round. It was a really, really nice play and a patient play. It's unfortunate for an accident like that to happen on the ice."

Video: NSH@STL, Gm1: Fiala exits game early with injury

Colin Wilson moved into Fiala's spot on a line with Mike Fisher and James Neal after the injury and said he feels comfortable playing in a top-six role. Wilson scored the first goal in a 4-3 win in Game 1.

Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is at Scottrade Center on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"I kind of had to take it. I don't want to see a guy getting injured, but it's certainly a role that I've played before in my career," Wilson said. "I've played a lot of my seasons with [Fisher and Neal] so if that continues to be the line, I'll certainly jump at the opportunity."

Wilson has been an impact player for the Predators in the playoffs. He has 19 points (11 goals, eight assists) in his past 21 playoff games and has been given the nickname of "Playoff Colin Wilson" by fans and teammates.

"I've said it before, it's better than being called 'Invisible Wilson' or something all year round or a guy who doesn't show up in the playoffs," said Wilson, who had 35 points (12 goals, 23 assists) in 70 games during the regular season. "It's not the worst, but I definitely would like to shed it a little bit."

Wilson's ability to produce in the playoffs will be an even bigger emphasis without Fiala. Nashville was without Calle Jarnkrok (lower body), Craig Smith (lower body) and Pontus Aberg (undisclosed) in Game 1 against the Blues. 

Video: NSH@STL, Gm1: Wilson tips Subban's shot for PPG

Wilson has led the Predators in scoring in each of the past two postseasons. In 2015, he had five goals in six games, and in 2016, he had 13 points in 14 games.

"Your focus is just a little bit smaller," Wilson said. "You only have to worry about each game. You're just trying to win each game so that seems to help as opposed to an 82-game span. It's an exciting time of year." 

Wilson missed the first round against the Blackhawks with a lower-body injury and scored a goal in Game 1 against the Blues.

"I don't know if necessarily my [Game 1] was a game that I want to continue to play," Wilson said. "I want to be better and improve on it. It was a little bit fast at the very beginning, kind of adjusting. There's certainly room to improve."

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