After a recent win over the Los Angeles Kings, Bruce Boudreau tossed out a, “Not every game can be a Picasso,” quote. The coach wanted to regurgitate the same uttering after the first two periods of Saturday’s 4-0 over the Dallas Stars, only maybe switching Picasso with your kindergartner’s refrigerator doodle.
The Wild, especially in a one-shot, two hit second period, was ugly, with a capital U.
The good news is Devan Dubnyk, for three periods, was beautiful with a capital B.
For the first time in Wild history, the sizzling-hot goalie backstopped the Wild to three consecutive shutouts. In the final minute at Xcel Energy Center, “DOOOOO’s” rained from many of the 19,031 folks in the stands.
“It was a long 35 seconds,” Dubnyk said. “That was probably the first time I started to get a little nervous toward the end of a 4-0 game.”
Dubnyk’s 180-minute-and-counting shutout streak broke his personal-best of 166:49 and Darcy Kuemper’s team individual shutout streak record of 163:46. The Wild’s team shutout streak is now 181:43, breaking the old 178:52.
With the Wild looking road weary after seven games (four on the road) in 12 days with no days off, Dubnyk did not. He looked as perfect as he did during consecutive blankings in Boston and Buffalo. “It’s definitely an accomplishment to be proud of for all of us. You don’t get shutouts by yourself,” said Dubnyk, who has 13 of his 22 career shutouts with the Wild.
Modesty aside, it’s hard to envision how Dubnyk won’t be named the NHL’s First Star of the Week on Monday after a perfect 3-0, 94 for 94 week after 29 saves Saturday.
“He just looks comfortable. He looks calm. He looks like he knows what he’s doing,” said Eric Staal, who celebrated his 32nd birthday with a power-play goal.
Through 40 minutes, the Wild was held to seven shots. Luckily for Minnesota, one by Mikael Granlund went in.
“Bruce wasn’t really too happy with us, to be honest,” said Tyler Graovac, who celebrated his season debut with his first NHL goal.
Playing without injured Zach Parise, Marco Scandella and Erik Haula and losing Zac Dalpe with a lower-body injury, the Wild was sloppy, slow and soft in the second.
Boudreau’s four new lines didn’t mesh. Finally, late in the second, Boudreau began juggling like a performer on Venice Beach. One of the lines he reunited was Niederreiter-Staal-Charlie Coyle.
It worked as Coyle’s fabulous shift led to a Niederreiter snipe for a 2-0 lead 3:08 into the third.
“If I could have tried 10 more combinations I would have just to see if we could get one group of three that was really going well,” Boudreau said.
Staal made it 3-0 before Graovac, playing his sixth NHL game, accepted a beautiful, blind, behind-the-back pass from Jason Zucker for a beauty. Granlund and Graovac became the Wild’s league-high 17th and 18th goal scorers, amazingly before Nov. 1. Minnesota had 22 all of last season.
Graovac, smiling on the bench, received a heartwarming applause from the crowd.
“Pure emotions and chills, a feeling I’ve never really had before,” Graovac said. “It was a lot more than just a goal for me.”
The Wild’s league-best penalty kill (24 for 25, 96 percent) went 2 for 2 and scored shorthanded.
Defenseman Christian Folin, a team-best plus-9, forced a turnover by Jason Spezza. From a dead stop, Granlund and Mikko Koivu hustled into a 2-on-1. After a pretty toe drag, Koivu fed Granlund, who got ahead of Tyler Seguin, for his second career shorty.
From there, Dubnyk was flawless as the Central Division leaders improved to 4-0 at home.
“I’m a big fan of wins,” Dubnyk said. “I don’t worry too much about shutouts, but when you can have a week like that, I always try to stay in the moment and enjoy things and that’s something that I’ll have [Saturday night and Sunday] to enjoy and we’ll get back to work on Monday.”