Minnesota Wild center Victor Rask succinctly summed up his 2019-20 season, a campaign in which he fell out of the rotation in training camp and spent a bulk of his nights watching from the press box.

“It definitely sucked,” he said. “Just had to keep working.”

That’s exactly what Rask did, and after turning some heads in Thursday’s season opener, it looks as if more playing time might be coming his way.

Not only did he score a big goal as the Wild earned a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings, he was elevated by coach Dean Evason into the No. 1 center spot between wingers Zach Parise and Kirill Kaprizov.

“He warranted getting more ice time and he did,” Evason said. “He was real good. He’s been good for us from Day 1 of training camp.”

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It’s not an exaggeration to say Rask was the most surprising player throughout training camp. He looked noticeably faster than he did last season and seemed to find the back of the net with regularity during practices.

That impressed Evason considering what Rask had to deal with last season.

“You never hear Victor Rask complaining, never hear him pouting, never hear him being a bad teammate,” Evason said. “I’ve had a lot of extra skates with him, and there was never a work-ethic issue. He had a long training period to come back and was rejuvenated and fresh and wanted an opportunity.”

It’s unclear where Rask will begin Saturday’s rematch against the Kings. While there’s no doubt he was among the best players on the ice in the season opener, Evason could put Nick Bjugstad back at No. 1 center. The coach declined to tip his hand before Friday’s practice.

“We asked our group from Day 1 to embrace the different people that they play with,” Evason said. “Whichever way we go, we expect our group to embrace it and play as hard as they possibly can.”

Talbot impresses

There were ups and downs in goaltender Cam Talbot’s first game with the Wild. He allowed a fluky goal to veteran winger Jeff Carter that he probably should’ve had, then had a couple of pucks bounce into the back of the net off a teammate’s skate.

But when the Wild needed him, Talbot came through in the clutch. He made his biggest save of the night in overtime, thwarting an odd-man rush from the Kings. A couple of minutes later, Kaprizov played hero with a breakaway goal on the other end.

“Just a real calming effect on the bench,” Evason said of Talbot. “That save in overtime on the 2-on-1 looked routine. It gives the group a lot of confidence.”

Power outage

While the Wild went 0 for 6 on the power play in Thursday’s season opener, Evason had no problem with how his team played with the man advantage. They moved the puck well and did pretty much everything except score.

“Our power play was real good,” Evason said. “We hit posts and had some missed shots. They made some blocks. I thought it looked great. If we stay with it, and continue to do what we’re doing, I think we’ll get rewarded for it.”