Connect with us


Wild zero in behind Dubnyk

Minnesota netminder pitches yet another shutout in win over Avs

Devan Dubnyk has the Wild back in the hunt for a playoff spot. (Getty Images / Bruce Kluckhohn)

Minnesota netminder pitches yet another shutout in win over Avs

SAINT PAUL –About the only time Devan Dubnyk missed a puck on Saturday night, teammate Jonas Brodin jumped into the crease and ripped the puck through Dubnyk’s legs and out of danger.

“I’ll have to thank him for that,” Dubnyk said with a smile.

Dubnyk, the 6-foot-6 newcomer who was acquired from Arizona on Jan. 14, has nearly single-handedly rescued a Wild season that was headed towards a dumpster. He posted his fourth shutout in nine starts Saturday as the Wild eased to a 1-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

And a season-high 19,244 Xcel Energy Center patrons exhaled huge, collective sighs of relief.

So did Wild coach Mike Yeo after he stepped into a room for postgame interviews.

“Don’t quote me on that,” he said to laughter.

The smiles and laughs are postscripts to an amazing string of play that has lifted the Wild from also-ran status into ninth place in the NHL’s Western Conference on the strength of five consecutive regulation victories. They are 7-1-1 since Jan. 13, when their 18-19-5 mark had them nose-diving out of playoff contention.

Credit Dubnyk, who since joining Minnesota has posted a 7-1 record with a 1.30 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage.

“He’s giving us a chance to win each and every night,” Wild captain Mikko Koivu observed.

Dubnyk required only four saves in a first period dominated by the Wild, who outshot the visitors 17-4 and grabbed the lead on a goal by Charlie Coyle 11:21 into the period.

It was almost too easy, Yeo commented, and his boys might have subconsciously cruised a bit after that. Chances were mostly even in the second and third periods, Yeo pointed out, “and Duby was there when we needed him.”

Marco Scandella, who had the primary assist on Coyle’s goal, offered a smile when asked about Dubnyk.

“He’s making it easy for us,”Scandella said. “He’s playing the puck very well. He just has to keep playing like that and we’re going to be successful.”

It was Dubnyk’s second consecutive shutout, but it did not come easy. The Avs pulled goalie Semyon Varlamov with just under two minutes left in the third period and threw everything they had at Minnesota’s defense.

This was a team that came into the X one point ahead of the Wild and having come back to tie the score after pulling its goaltender in four of its previous seven games.

The Avs got a power play with 5:51 left to start their final push. When Matt Duschene’s shot nearly eluded Dubnyk, it appeared the Wild were fit to be tied.

But as the puck trickled towards the goalline, Brodin got there first.

“I knew I got a pretty good piece of it,” Dubnyk said, “but I figured it was in behind me.”

“I just saw the puck,” Brodin said. “I got pretty lucky on that.”

Especially lucky, he noted, that Dubnyk’s legs remained splayed so he could rifle the puck directly back out.

“That was a good play by Dubnyk, to open up,” Brodin said with a laugh.

His listeners, too, all laughed.

That’s the way things have been going for the Wild since Jan. 14.

It’s no coincidence.

BB covered sports for the Minneapolis Tribune for 13 years and for the St. Paul Pioneer Press for 20 years following stints at the International Falls Daily Journal and the Duluth News-Tribune. He was on the Wild beat as well as Gophers men's and women's hockey at the Pioneer Press. He lives in Minneapolis. Follow Bruce on Twitter @RealBBrothers

Click to comment

2024 State Tourney Guide Issue

Click on the cover to view!

2024 Hockey Day MN Recap Issue

Click on the cover to view!

Sign Up Here to Receive Our Free E-edition!


More in NHL

  • Eye On The Future

    Marc-Andre Fleury's return puts future Hall of Fame goalie in position to develop Jesper...

  • Wallstedt Gets A Boost

    Three months after a rough NHL debut, Wallstedt gets a second chance with the...

  • Sweet For Shaw

    Wild forward Mason Shaw scored his first goal in more than a year.

  • Wild Questions

    Zulgad: The Minnesota Wild will enter the offseason with many questions.

  • Wild Trades

    Wild GM eliminated his chance to make impact moves at deadline.

  • Back In The Mix

    Wild's playoff run ultimately might be counterproductive.