Found December 30, 2011 on Fox Sports North:
ST. PAUL, Minn. On the same day he was recalled by Minnesota, forward Matt Kassian was named the No. 1 star in the Wild's 4-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers.Kassian didn't score the game-winning goal. That was Dany Heatley. Kassian also didn't have a three-assist effort. That was Marek Zidlicky.In fact, Kassian didn't record a point all night.But what he did provide was energy and toughness, tallying 20 penalty minutes including two fights to spark the Wild and help Minnesota snap an eight-game losing streak."Say what you want about fighting, but it can change the dynamic of the game," said Heatley, whose second-period goal put Minnesota up 4-2. "We're up 3-1 and they want to set the tone, and Kass kind of shut that down pretty good and did it again in the third. He was big for us tonight."Both of Kassian's fights came against Edmonton forward Darcy Hordichuk. Round one between the two came midway through the second period, as they dropped the gloves at center ice. Kassian took down Hordichuk and pumped his fist to incite the Xcel Energy Center crowd as he skated toward the penalty box."Any time you have a team that's going to push, you want to push back and you want to push back even harder than they did," Kassian said. "You don't want to back down. You don't want to have guys feeling uncomfortable out there. You don't want to feel intimidated. If I can provide that sort of feeling for my teammates, then that's what I'm going to go out and do."Round two seemed inevitable given the history between Kassian and Hordichuk. The two fought during the preseason, and Kassian broke a finger during that fight. Kassian's Twitter picture is even a picture of him fighting Hordichuk. Clearly, the two aren't the best of friends.So just three seconds into the third period barely after the puck had dropped the gloves hit the ice again. With the Wild holding a 4-2 lead, Kassian again took Hordichuk down to the ground. "I wasn't sure, actually. I didn't know it right away," Kassian said, when asked about the seemingly inevitable rematch. "About two seconds after standing next to him, I did."And yet again after taking down Hordichuk, Kassian pumped his fists in a victory dance of sorts. Just like the first time, the Wild fans erupted with the energy Kassian brought to the building."Honestly, I don't even know. A little bit of adrenaline. It's a little bit of a rush for me most every time," Kassian said of the fist pumping. "I don't really know what I was doing. You can equate it to like a goal celebration. I kind of just do whatever."Kassian nearly needed a goal celebration in the first period. After the Oilers took a 1-0 lead, Kassian had a good look at the net but couldn't corral the puck on his stick.It would have been his first NHL goal in seven career games three this season."He's a big man. He almost scored a goal there, too," Wild head coach Mike Yeo said of the 6-foot-5, 247-pound Kassian. "It was good. It was an entertaining game, every aspect. We had the goals, we had the fights, we had the hits. The emotion was there, and you could tell the crowd was picking up off that, too."Kassian will have to wait for his first career tally, but he did other things Thursday to help Minnesota win. As a result, the weight of the eight-game losing streak is finally off the Wild's shoulders as they prepare to host Phoenix on New Year's Eve. "It was exciting the whole game, fights aside. I think I spent more time in the penalty box than I did on the ice. That happens sometimes, and that's OK," Kassian said. "As a line, I think we generated a little bit on the forecheck and had a couple chances early, which was good. It's just I think a fun night for everyone out there."
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