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Donato eager for latest opportunity

Young forward primed to skate between Parise, Fiala Tuesday against Anaheim

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

ST. PAUL -- There is nothing more valuable to an athlete than an opportunity. Make the most of it and you're set for success.

Ryan Donato has played mostly fourth-line minutes so far this season, but the young forward has a chance to seize more ice time with the opportunity he's being given in the wake of the injury to Mikko Koivu.

Donato appears poised to play center on the Wild's second line on Tuesday night when the team opens a three-game homestand against the Anaheim Ducks. 

Donato hasn't played much center at the pro level, but skated there a bit in training camp and in the preseason this year. 

He also played a lot his final season at Harvard, so it's not as though the position is completely foreign to him. 

Video: Ryan Donato adjusting, being rewarded

"For me, I'm lucky enough to have guys like Mikko and played with guys like [Patrice] Bergeron and those guys, to kind of look up to and just watch how they are," Donato said. "Just learning, trying to be a sponge. You have to come in with a different mindset being good down low and being good first defensively. But for me, it is a little bit like riding a bike. It's something I'm used to and it's something I'm comfortable with."

Donato is set to play between Zach Parise and Kevin Fiala, who had been playing well when Koivu went down last week in Florida. 

Parise had a five-game points streak snapped Thursday night in Tampa, while Fiala has points in six of his past eight games. 

"It's a total blessing," Donato said. "Zach and Kevin are two great players. For me, I come in with the same mentality as before, playing a good 200-foot game and knowing if I do that, everything else will come."

Video: Bruce Boudreau injury updates

Donato has seen his offensive output on the rise in recent weeks as well. He scored the Wild's first goal Saturday night in Raleigh and had a modest three-game point streak betwen Nov. 25-29, when he scored two goals and had an assist. 

Overall, three of his four goals this season have come in his past six games.

"I wouldn't say I'm totally happy or satisfied, but for me, it is nice to get rewarded for doing certain things and learning that, once I do those certain things, goals will come," Donato said. "Now they're starting to come and now it's just staying consistent with it and not straying too far away from what the coaches are telling us to do."

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