The seconds slipped off the scoreboard and once the clock lit up in zeros, Wild coach Bruce Boudreau issued a few handshakes and then ducked down the tunnel away from the bench.
Nothing suggested this win was any different than any of the others Boudreau was at the helm of this season, but it was.
Boudreau achieved the 500th victory of his coaching career Saturday in a 4-1 triumph over the Predators at Xcel Energy Center, becoming the second-fastest in NHL history to reach the milestone and quickest among active bench bosses.
“I didn’t want anybody to make any fuss about any of that,” Boudreau said. “We’re in too tight of a playoff race. I talk about team all the time so if I start talking about this thing, then it sort of defeats what I’m really trying to accomplish.”
Not even some of the players knew Boudreau had secured his 500th win after the game, evidence of how much he’s steered the focus away from him. But the number is certainly worth recognizing.
“That’s a lot of wins,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “He’s had a ton of success. Everywhere he’s went, you look it follows him around. That’s exciting for him. We’ll get a chance to congratulate him tomorrow. Hopefully get 501.”
Boudreau is the 26th NHL coach to reach the 500-win mark, and he ranks 10th among active coaches in career wins.
Only Scotty Bowman took less time to get to 500, climbing there in 825 games, while it took Boudreau 837.
“If he didn’t have those 60-win seasons in the 70s, which is when he did it and got his 500th, that would have been different,” Boudreau said.
Here’s what else to watch for after the Wild’s win over the Predators.
-Boudreau wasn’t the only one to achieve a milestone Saturday.
Winger Jason Zucker scored his 30th, the first time he’s reached the benchmark in his career.
He became the sixth player in Wild history to hit the plateau in a season and with center Eric Staal on the brink of 40 goals, this is just the third time in franchise history the team has had two 30-goal scorers in the same season.
“You're always trying to get better every year and reach new milestones,” Zucker said. “If you're doing that individually, then typically you're helping the team as well if you're doing it with the right attitude and the right mindset. That's kind of what I've been trying to do.”
-This was the third straight game the fourth line has chipped in a goal, with center Joel Eriksson Ek capitalizing after also delivering in the third period Monday against the Kings.
“We’re feeding off each other,” winger Marcus Foligno said. “We’re clicking at the right time now, and I think Ekker is playing great. He’s really evolving now as the player that he wants to be. Me and [Daniel] Winnik are doing a good job with puck management, and we’re reliable in the defensive zone, too. We know we have to chip in. We have that urgency and awareness that we gotta be there for the guys every night and help this team in making the playoffs but also a playoff run.”
-The Wild is back in action Sunday when it hosts the Bruins. After the game, Boudreau did not reveal who would start in net.