“Doooooooooooooooooo” rained at Xcel Energy Center as the final horn blared Saturday night, the same sound heard in the arena all of last season’s second half because Dubnyk looked like the goalie he was all of last season’s second half.
For one night, the impenetrable Dubnyk was back as he made 31 saves to shut out the Lightning, 1-zip. In the final five seconds, in a four-second span, Dubnyk made three saves in a row on studs Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman and Steven Stamkos to get the Wild two needed points.
It was the 18th 1-0 win in Wild history, and Dubnyk’s been in three. In 51 starts with the Wild, he has still yet to suffer consecutive regulation losses.
Dubnyk said it was nice to pay his teammates back for needing to score four or five goals in some of his wins this year and he’s just trying to rediscover his game.
The last two games, he has challenged shooters bigtime on top of his crease. He made so many big saves from the top of his goalmouth today, and coach Mike Yeo said it was almost like he was attacking shots.
“You try to find that in between,” Dubnyk said. “For me, I’m a guy that plays deeper in certain situations, but you also can get stuck deep if you don’t pay attention. Certain situations you have to get out. … Tonight I felt pretty good on my blades, and pretty patient, and that’s the most important part of my game.”
Jared Spurgeon scored the lone goal for Minnesota 26 seconds into the second period after Ben Bishop robbed Charlie Coyle on a Jason Pominville rebound. Coyle regathered the puck though, wheeled out of the corner and fed Spurgeon, who shot through a Pominville screen.
Pominville ended a nine-game even-strength point drought. He didn’t score a goal, so he’s still got a goose-egg in 13 games, but he and Mikael Granlund were a lot better tonight with Coyle, who played Parise’s spot on the line. It was really the first time Coyle played his off-wing consistently in the NHL. Yeo had heavy praise for Coyle, and his linemates after the game. I’ll save that for by Monday follow because there’s no practice Sunday and the story I was planning on a couple prospects, I think I’ll hold for a game notebook next week.
Tonight was the type of game the Wild may need to play and win without Parise. The Wild will naturally have a tough time scoring without Parise and Justin Fontaine. It just makes things tougher matchup-wise and chemistry-wise, as Yeo said, but the Wild played like a team tonight and defended with more commitment. They’ll need to play tight-checking games, and Ryan Suter, who was on the ice for more than 10 minutes of Stamkos’ shifts tonight, said maybe the Parise injury will help the Wild concentrate more on the defensive side of the game.
I thought the fourth line with Chris Porter and Ryan Carter was awesome tonight. Bigtime energy and physicality. They started with Jordan Schroeder but played the last two periods with Christoph Bertschy, who made his NHL debut. Yeo indicated that they felt Bertschy was trying to play more of an offensive game with Thomas Vanek and Erik Haula, so they thought he’d be a better fit with Porter and Carter because he skates in straight lines and brings energy.
On Porter and Carter, Yeo said, “They’re just so committed to their role and just so committed to playing the game a certain way, bringing energy, bringing a defensive presence, bringing momentum. They talk on the bench, are good leaders.”
Bertschy was reassigned after the game. Not a shock. As I documented in Saturday’s paper and did again Sunday, the Wild is inches from the cap ceiling, so with two days off, the Wild is trying to save some cap space. But, like I’ve also indicated, it wouldn’t shock me if with big, tough Winnipeg coming to town Tuesday if the Wild brings up rugged Kurtis Gabriel to make his NHL debut.
“We often talk about how we want to beat teams with our game, but that’s not to say you can’t make some tweaks here and there,” Yeo said.
The Wild did a tremendous job on Stamkos tonight. Yeo threw both Mikko Koivu’s line and Granlund’s line out there all night against his line, and Suter and Spurgeon. He had three shots.
“We know when he’s out there, and when he’s out there he’s dangerous,” Coyle said. “We just tried to play the system, play tight, not give them too much out there. The D had good gaps, which frustrates them and it builds after that.”
Amazing just like Anaheim earlier this year how a team with as much talent as Tampa Bay can have such trouble scoring sometimes. The Lightning has scored one or fewer goals in six of the past eight games (2-5-1). Ben Bishop has lost FIVE straight and given up EIGHT total goals in those games because the Lightning has given him THREE goals of support.
Crazy. Wild’s off Sunday. I’ll talk to you after Monday’s practice. Also, Monday night at 5:30, Jim Souhan and I will be taping our malepatternpodcasts.com podcast at Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub. Our special guest will be Wild owner Craig Leipold. Stop on by, and also listen to the podcast we post Sunday that was taped today.
If you didn't read my long blog just prior to this, give it a read. Ton of good info on Parise, the cap situation, trades, etc. Nighty night.