ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)Kevin Fiala had two goals and an assist, Kaapo Kahkonen made 26 saves and the Minnesota Wild defeated the Anaheim Ducks 5-1 on Saturday night.
”Especially tonight, I felt my game was where it’s supposed to be so I have to try to keep going,” Fiala said.
Joel Eriksson Ek, Victor Rask and Mats Zuccarello also scored for the Wild, who swept a two-game set against the Ducks.
David Backes scored, John Gibson made 24 saves and Anaheim lost its third straight.
”Not a fun day for anyone,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. ”You’re got a choice to make, and we’ve just got to keep moving forward and stay gritty and work our way out of this.”
Fiala continued his hot streak, having scored all of his team-leading six goals in his last seven games. He gave Minnesota a 2-0 lead at 16:17 of the first period, beating Ducks defenseman Ben Hutton to a loose puck in the offensive zone and putting a shot into Gibson’s side that trickled in. Fiala also had a power-play goal to make it 3-0 three minutes into the second.
Fiala had three goals in the two games against the Ducks, including both winners, extending his knack for getting the best of Anaheim. He has eight goals in 12 career games versus Anaheim, the most against any NHL team, and two of his 10 multi-goal games have come against the Ducks.
”Yeah, I like playing in Anaheim,” Fiala said. ”I didn’t know that record.”
Wild coach Dean Evason praised the unselfish and well-rounded nature of Fiala’s game, which was evident when he passed up his chance for his first hat trick and instead passed to Ryan Hartman, who set up Eriksson Ek’s sixth goal to make it 5-1 at 14:26.
”When Kevin Fiala is a good teammate and he’s sharing the puck and he’s playing within the system and doing all those right things, Kevin Fiala has success,” Evason. ”So we’re very encouraged with how he played. His attitude, his demeanor, his body language on the ice and on the bench was real good.”
While the Ducks were held to one goal in regulation for the ninth time, Eakins did see a bright spot in the season debut of defenseman Josh Mahura, whose shot was redirected by Backes to get the Ducks on the board.
”I thought Josh played a really strong game. He was certainly ready for his opportunity,” Eakins said. ”
Mahura made it into the lineup after Hampus Lindholm sustained a lower-body injury on Thursday.
ON THE OUTS
The Ducks placed forward Adam Henrique on waivers Saturday. Henrique is in the second year of a five-year, $29 million contract and led the team in goals (26) and points (43) last season, but he has three goals and one assist through 16 games this year. Eakins did not rule out a return to the lineup if Henrique, who was scratched on Jan. 31 and saw his playing time reduced significantly on Thursday, clears waivers.
”Let’s be very clear on one thing, it’s not just Adam. We’ve had a number of players take great strides and are taking over the game, and we have a number of players that are, for whatever reason, we’ll call it stuck in mud,” Eakins said prior to the game Saturday.
Rask scored in his return after missing two games while in COVID-19 protocol, and Zuccarello added an assist for a multipoint game in just his third appearance following offseason arm surgery. ”Some games you feel it, the puck sits on your stick and you feel good. Some games, you struggle. I think the first three games I’ve had the puck a little bit and felt good,” Zuccarello said.
Kirill Kaprizov had two assists for his second multi-point game, both of which have come in Southern California. He had a goal and two assists in his NHL debut against the Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 14. With three goals and eight assists through 14 games, Kaprizov leads all rookies in points.
Wild forward Marcus Johansson did not play because of an upper-body injury.
Wild: Minnesota continues its six-game trip at the San Jose Sharks on Monday.
Ducks: Anaheim opens a two-game set at the Arizona Coyotes on Monday.
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