Fiala's bounce back helps bring Wild back in Anaheim
Forward scores twice, including the game-winner in overtime, as Minnesota takes four of six points on tripby Dan Myers @mnwildscribe / Wild.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The mark of a true superstar isn't how he performs in his good games, it's how he bounces back from the bad ones.
For Wild forward Kevin Fiala, who along with Alex Stalock, has been Minnesota's best player for the past several weeks, he was coming off his first sub-par game in sometime on Sunday night when Minnesota finished off a three-game California road trip.
Fiala had a six-game point streak snapped in a 7-3 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday afternoon, and even more glaringly, was a minus-4 in the process.
For a guy who hadn't even had a minus-3 game this season, and only five minus-2s, the crooked number in that category was one that stung the Wild's 23-year-old winger.
Video: Postgame win helmet at Anaheim
"We were mad. I was mad. Didn't play good enough at all [on Saturday]," Fiala said. "There was no excuse and [Sunday], it was a tight game again, a 3-2 lead for them going into the third. We don't want to do that, but we said to ourselves that we have to make it. This is do or die.
"We needed this two points for sure and I think everybody was dialed in. Very proud of the team. From the start of the end in the third, I think we were outstanding."
On Sunday night, Fiala was quick to start a new scoring streak by scoring a beautiful goal midway through the first period, a goal which gave the Wild the lead.
Video: MIN@ANA: Fiala roofs wrist shot for PPG from circle
Just 91 seconds after Mats Zuccarello tied the game with a goal that snapped a 17-game drought, Fiala snapped a wicked shot under the crossbar that was perfectly placed inches to the right of goaltender Ryan Miller's mask. The puck was placed in an ideal spot where Miller couldn't get his glove in position to rob him.
And while the goal didn't feature a highlight-reel toe drag, or his lightning fast speed, it was just another example of the kind of all-world talent that Fiala possesses.
He can toe drag. He can fly. And he can also really shoot.
Something he proved yet again on perhaps his most important goal of the season, in overtime Sunday night.
Moments after drawing a penalty to put the Wild on the power play with just over a minute remaining in overtime, Fiala rifled his second goal of the game past Miller to help Minnesota win 5-4, and take four of six points on Minnesota's California road trip.
Video: MIN@ANA: Fiala fires PPG from circle for OT winner
If this really is the evolution of a superstar, Fiala proved again that it's more than just the physical skills he brings to the table. He's also quickly learning what it takes to excel as a professional too.
That means bouncing back from tough games and making sure one bad night doesn't turn into two bad nights, or three.
"It's such a hard sport, such a hard league, so if you have a bad game, you just have to drop it," Fiala said. "Especially now, in the situation we are in, if we would've just kept on, we would've maybe lost this one as well. We have to drop it mentally and physically and just go for the next one. It's tough to do sometimes, some losses hurt more than others. Obviously [Saturday] hurt a lot, but I think we did a good job of dropping it and going for this one."
Fiala led the Wild in shots on goal Sunday with four and skated 20 minutes, 52 seconds, nearly three full minutes more than the next highest forward.
When he jumps over the boards, his teammates expect good things to happen. So does interim coach Dean Evason.
Video: Evason postgame at Anaheim
"We try to get him out there as much as we possibly can," Evason said.
That's one of the reasons why Evason called his timeout right after Fiala drew the tripping penalty on Josh Manson moments before the game-winning goal. It allowed Fiala the opportunity to be on the ice and score the winning goal.
Just 24 hours after perhaps his toughest game of the season, Fiala more than made amends. It's an encouraging development in another long line of them for Minnesota's most impactful player.
"You could be mad as much as you want," Fiala said. "You learn that year-by-year, more seasons ... in Switzerland there's 50 [games]. In juniors, even less, so you have time to think about it. You practice, you can think about, it doesn't really affect you badly.
"But here, you just have to think about the next game. You go so quickly, just this week we had four games. If the first game is bad, and you think about it four days later, that's two games gone. This league is too fast, the games are going too fast to think about that stuff."
Postgame Hat Trick: Wild 5, Ducks 4 (OT)