Devin freaking Dubnyk. The Wild were not the best team on the ice, nor were they in the offensive zone much, but their former Vezina Trophy candidate and Masterton Trophy winning goaltender held the team in just long enough after being spot an early one goal lead so the team could net a few more goals and some breathing room. Dubnyk not only broke the franchise shutout streak record, but he broke his personal best with 181:43 minutes of scoreless hockey.
The started with Antoine Roussel taking a hooking minor just 13 ticks in. The fruitless power play didn’t mount to much of anything as the Stars were aggressive on the penalty kill and never really allowed the Wild room to shoot, let alone get set up in the zone. Ryan Suter would be flagged for a minor and put the Stars up a man early in the period.
The Stars, who have been riddled with injuries, were not without superstars Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, were able to rack up the scoring chances and shots galore in the game.
Some good work by the defensemen on the penalty kill led to Christian Folin springing Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund on a 2-on-2 breakout. Though Granlund’s hustle turned it into more of a 2-on-1 break, Mikko Koivu did a little toe drag around a down John Klingberg, and fed a beauty of a pass to Granlund for the Wild’s first short-handed goal of the season. While the shots and attempts finished in the Stars’ favor, the game was mostly even, aside from the power plays the Wild had given Dallas.
The Wild had made a couple call-ups leading into the game. Marco Scandella was out after suffering an injury in Buffalo, and Zach Parise was a late scratch with what is being called a “lower body injury” and will be week-to-week for both. Jared Spurgeon returned to the line-up after missing a couple games, and both Tyler Graovac and Christoph Bertschy were recalled from Iowa Wild (AHL).
The second period, which up until the game in Buffalo, had been the Wild’s strongest period throughout the early season. The Stars peppered Dubnyk to the tune of 13 shots in the period, and 23 attempted shots to keep the pressure on the Wild. Dubnyk was equal to all of them. He just kept calmly turning shot by shot aside, or covering for a faceoff. Minnesota struggled to get out of its own zone all period long, and many attempts to breakout of their zone was blocked, or knocked down at the blue line, and eventually had to resort to chipping out of the zone by going hard off the glass. Doing that is good for temporary relieving pressure, but is a recipe for getting dominated by the other team. The Wild finished the period with just one - one! - shot on goal.
Minnesota carried the 1-0 score into the third period, and a 22-7 shot deficit. However, Boudreau did some line juggling and reassembled the Niederreiter - Staal - Coyle line and it immediately paid dividends. Charlie Coyle was able to carry the puck into the zone with possession and into the left offensive corner. There he turned around and found Nino coming toward him. Coyle passed the puck to Niederreiter and he ripped a #SillyHard wrister over Kari Lehtonen’s glove and just inside the far post.
The Stars had resorted to shooting and putting the puck on net from anywhere, no matter the angle. they had to try and break through some how on Dubnyk. Dubnyk just kept tracking everything, and the ones he was unable to see, his size, and good fundamentals on his angles allowed him to be in the right position every time.
Jason Pominville, whom was having himself a relatively decent game, considering the whole team, including him, struggled to get much going at all. He forechecked and was able to draw a penalty after taking a high stick to the schnozz. This led to new 32 year old center, Eric Staal, to get a birthday goal. The Wild had a couple good chances out front, including a rip of a shot by Matt Dumba that went over the net. However, the puck got rotated back over to Ryan Suter, walked down the left side and found Staal on the weak side for a one timer that found just enough space over the shoulder of Lehtonen.
The Wild were feeling really good about themselves. Christoph Bertschy, just called up, was on the ice late in the period. He chased down an errant pass by the Stars’ defender on the near boards, found Jason Zucker alone out front. As the Stars were trying to get into position for Zucker, Zucker does a pirouette and feeds a backhand pass to the backdoor for Tyler Graovac in just a beautiful play all around. It was Graovac’s first career goal, and a fellow Iowa teammate got the second assist on the play.
Dubnyk made one final save as the Wild faithful in attendance was loudly and raucously chanting, “DOOOOOOB!!!” as time ran out and the sealed the third consecutive shutout and the victory.
Joel Eriksson Ek started on the top line flanking Staal, but was eventually moved to the third line when Boudreau decided to shake the lines up. This stat, courtesy of Tony Abbott on Twitter (@OhHiTony), the Wild have nine periods in nine games win which they have 5 shots on goal or fewer. That is a trend that absolutely has to stop and it starts by getting better on the breakout. There is just too much chipping out off the boards and not enough skating of the puck out of the zone.
Any ways, Dubnyk is a machine. Wild back in action Tuesday and host the Sabres, who they just beat 4-0 as part of this current shutout streak.
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