Wild’s Fiala sets records, expanding his game in a career year

Kevin Fiala took a break to fill the net with pucks, but the Wild kept scoring.

Fiala has just changed position in the production chain.

“I try to pass too, sometimes,” he said with a smile.

Whether he was the playmaker or the finisher, the result recently has been the same: Fiala has been a goal factory, helping propel the Wild to one of their most impressive streaks of the season.

Following his record-breaking five-assist performance on Friday in Kraken’s 6-3 rout at Xcel Energy Center, Fiala has led the NHL in goals (nine), assists (12) and points (21) since April 8 when that the Wild went 7-0-2 to post a franchise record in wins (50) and points (107).

That tear has already sealed his best season in the league, and Fiala is set to add another leg when the Wild travel to Nashville — Fiala’s former team — on Sunday.

But a flashy uptick isn’t all the 25-year-old winger has achieved.

He also became the multidimensional talent he wanted to be.

“That was my goal, to be a versatile player,” Fiala said, “to become more reliable and also be more of a team player.”

Undoubtedly, Fiala’s goalscoring push has already claimed this season’s trademark.

Here’s why:

  • Not only is he a first-time 30-goal scorer, currently at 32 in his fourth season with the Wild following a trade from the Predators, but Fiala also set career highs for assists (50) and dots (82). He is just one point away from tying Marian Gaborik for the second wildest season record, with Gaborik’s 83 the franchise record for 14 years until Kirill Kaprizov surpassed it earlier this month . Kaprizov is the team’s first 100-point player, reaching 101 on Friday after a four-point effort.

“Very proud and honored to possibly break this record,” Fiala said of Gaborik’s clip. “That’s a lot of points.”

  • His active nine-game point streak isn’t even his longest of the season. Fiala played 12 matches from December 20 to February 20. 2 which tied the Wild’s record. The Swiss native, drafted 11th overall by Nashville in 2014, also had multiple points in four straight games, one shy of his career high.
  • Along with becoming the first Wild player to register five assists in a game, Fiala is also the first to record four assists and four points in one period. The five points he totaled on Friday was also a personal best. Overall, Fiala is third on the team in goals and second in scoring with four games left in the regular season. His seven winning games are tied for first on the Wild.

“I’m really happy for him,” Kaprizov said in Russian through an interpreter. “I’m glad his game has taken off, and he’s had some really key moments in the last two games. He peaks at the right time, so generally very happy for him.

“He’s on a roll, and I hope that continues.”

Skill is his calling card, but Fiala also skates when the Wild aren’t desperate for offense.

After occasional looks last season, he has become a go-to penalty killer this season and has been used late in action when the team tries to hold on to a lead.

And Fiala, who is a restricted free agent on an expiring contract after the team signed him to a one-year, $5.1 million deal last offseason, has done well with the responsibility.

Of the 60 goals the Wild have allowed shorthanded, Fiala and teammate Frederick Gaudreau have been on the ice for just five. The two also combined for Fiala’s first shorthanded goal on April 14 at Dallas.

“He’s so quick and strong, and he does good readings with his stick as well,” Gaudreau said. “So it’s easy to play with him shorthanded.”

In the Wild’s upcoming playoff series against St. Louis, the team will need goals, but it will also require smart decision-making all over the ice.

Throughout the season and especially lately, Fiala has provided both for the Wild.

“When you see Kevin playing with so much confidence, when he’s not really stressing out, he’s so good,” Joel Eriksson Ek said. “You look at him and say ‘Oh, my God. How can he do that?’ It’s really impressive for him, when he has that confidence he doesn’t really push the game and that’s where he plays best.

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