Welcome to the Jason Zucker show. Well, and Devan Dubnyk, too.
It was Zucker’s goal and Dubnyk’s effort that propelled the Minnesota Wild (7-7-2) to their second shutout in as many games with a 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers (8-7-2) Saturday night. The victory puts the Wild on a mini winning streak and puts them at .500 on the road trip (2-2).
The Wild were successful in a place they haven’t had much luck. The win was just their fourth in club history in Philly, and it snapped a five-game losing streak for the Wild against the Flyers.
As mentioned, Zucker scored the team’s only goal of the game. But really, he’s the only player who’s scored for the Wild over the past three games.
“I’d like somebody else to score a goal. It’s OK,” coach Bruce Boudreau deadpanned.
Zucker has nine goals this season, six of those coming in the past three games including his pure hat trick in Thursday’s third period. He scored two goals the game prior, while his teammates stayed off the scoresheet in the goals column.
“It’s been a while since I’ve seen somebody get this many goals in a row for a team,” Boudreau said. “But as long as he’s feeling it, and we get a little bit of success, that’s good.”
Saturday, the game was scoreless through two periods. The good news for the Wild is that they’ve cut down on the number of goals they’ve allowed lately. The bad news is, well, you need to score a goal to win the game.
The Wild finished killing a penalty early in the third period. Then the Wild got the puck in the offensive zone. The puck was bounced off the sideboards to Matt Dumba at the point. Dumba’s shot got through to the front of the net like a pinball machine. There was Zucker to get the rebound.
He bounced it in off the goaltender.
“I have no idea… honestly couldn’t tell you what it hit, just a lucky bounce,” Zucker said.
Zucker keeps his team lead in goals and points (8-5—13). Sometimes goals come in bunches, but one player taking care of all the scoring for three games is a bit unheard of. Zucker keeps finding himself at the right place at the right time.
The hockey saying is true: Go to the front of the net and good things will happen. He’s found ways to score shorthanded, without a goaltender and getting his stick on rebounds.
Then there’s Dubnyk, who has looked much better in goal recently after games where allowing four or five goals became the norm. Saturday was his 26th career NHL shutout and second in nine career starts against the Flyers. He’s stopped 73 shots over the past two games. Dubnyk appears to be seeing the puck well, freezing the puck rather than letting rebounds escape.
“He controlled everything,” Boudreau said. “His movements were really good. I’d like to bottle up his confidence right now.”
Dubnyk (6-6-1) with 32 saves. Brian Elliott (6-4-1) with 26 saves.
Faceoff wins were split down the middle 50-50, and each team went 0 for 3 on the power play.
Mikko Koivu, who came up with a couple solid defensive plays, had four shots on goal. Joel Eriksson Ek also had four shots on goal; he’s still looking for his second goal of the season.
Dumba’s assist was his seventh this season. Nino Niederreiter had the other assist, giving him five points in the six games he’s played since returning from his ankle injury.
The Wild had been shut out twice so far this season, both times at home to Vancouver and Chicago. In just two road games, the Wild are finally on the right side of the shutout column.
The two-game winning streak comes on the heels of a three-game losing streak for the Wild. It’s the second time this year they’ve won back-to-back games.
The Wild return home after their 2-2 road trip to face a familiar opponent: The Flyers. They’ll be in town Tuesday night.
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