ST LOUIS – Now Devan Dubnyk is tired, and he has every right to be.
"I'll admit it now," the Wild goaltender joked after deserving to be escorted out of Scottrade Center in handcuffs for stealing two points in a 3-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues.
With so many questions regarding when — or at this point if — Dubnyk ever will get a night off after starting 27 consecutive games since being traded to the Wild, it's a shock he could even walk after snatching the Wild a franchise-record-tying seventh consecutive road victory with a season-high 41 saves Saturday night.
The Wild has a scheduled day off Sunday. Dubnyk should head to the spa for a massage, Jacuzzi, sauna and an ice-cold beer.
He sure earned it.
"We escaped with one," Zach Parise said, shaking his head, after the Wild was outshot 42-19. "Game after game, it's the same thing with Dubnyk."
Through two periods, the Wild — in a potential first-round playoff preview — was outshot 32-10, including 20-5 in the second period. The score was 1-1 (David Backes and Thomas Vanek exchanged goals 46 seconds apart) thanks to Dubnyk. He kept the Wild in the game until late in the third period. After Dubnyk made a string of clutch stops, Nino Niederreiter and Kyle Brodziak scored 17 seconds apart to give Minnesota a stunning 3-1 lead.
"Huge one in a huge game for us," Brodziak said of Dubnyk's performance. "They were swarming."
The victory was the Wild's first regulation victory in St. Louis since Oct. 20, 2007, a span of 13 visits.
Minnesota remained in the Western Conference's first wild-card spot with 83 points, three points ahead of eighth-place Winnipeg, which won at Tampa Bay. The Wild is four points up on ninth-place Los Angeles, which lost at home to Nashville. The Kings have a game in hand on the Wild.
The Wild, 11-1-2 in 14 road games under Dubnyk, spent virtually the entire second period in the defensive zone with him constantly sliding left and right, crouching up and down exhaustively. It didn't help that the Wild was tired from playing the night before and short one defenseman because of a leg injury to Nate Prosser. But Dubnyk improved to 20-5-1 to help the Wild avoid suffering consecutive losses for the first time since Jan. 19-20.
Not bad for a goalie who entered 0-7 lifetime against the Blues with a 4.72 goals-against average and .873 save percentage.
"This is kind of my unicorn," Dubnyk said. "I got my first start against these guys in Edmonton. It was real ugly [and downhill from there]. It's nice to get out there with a different team and get one so I can stop thinking about it."
With 6:33 left, Niederreiter, "after our line was chasing all night," scored his 22nd goal when Mikko Koivu redirected Jared Spurgeon's shot and Brian Elliott couldn't hang onto it. The next shift, Vladimir Tarasenko bumped into a teammate, coughed up the puck and Brodziak buried it.
"Tie game going into the third on the road, as cliché as it is, we put ourselves in a good spot," Brodziak said.
It was a strange game with video goal judge Jerry Burt and the NHL's Toronto Situation Room racking up long-distance charges. The calls began 1:41 in when Patrik Berglund redirected Jay Bouwmeester's point shot for an apparent 1-0 St. Louis lead.
At first, the goal was reviewed for a high stick, and the Situation Room ruled it a good goal. Dubnyk frantically skated to the officials claiming the puck never went in.
Just before the puck was dropped for the ensuing faceoff, the horn sounded. The league called back after discovering the puck hit the outside of the net and fell into the white padding on the bottom. If that puck had dropped on the faceoff, it would have been too late to overturn.
"Oh my goodness, let's not even think about that," Dubnyk said.
Dubnyk held the Wild in a scoreless first, but nine seconds after a Blues power play expired, Backes redirected Alex Steen's point shot for a goal. Thirteen seconds later, Parise redirected in the tying goal, but the league determined he kicked the puck in.
The Wild vehemently disagreed, but nevertheless, 33 seconds later, Fontaine set up Vanek's fourth goal in four games and 600th career point.
"I think [the goal/no-goal in the first] got Duby fired up, which turned out to be good for us," Vanek said.
Added coach Mike Yeo, "We knew this wasn't going to be perfect, but we found a way."