NASHVILLE – There are few things more irritating in hockey than somebody taking their sweaty hockey gloves and rubbing them repulsively across another’s face.
Matt Dumba was face-washed a lot late Tuesday night. He loved every second of it.
That’s because it wasn’t Nashville Predators agitators disgustingly rubbing their mitts across his smiling mug. It was teammates such as Mikko Koivu during a joyous celebratory scene after the rookie defenseman scored 22 seconds into overtime to lift the Wild to a 3-2 overtime victory at Bridgestone Arena.
After an exceptional individual effort by former Predators defenseman Ryan Suter to spring the Wild on a 3-on-2 break, Dumba one-timed a Zach Parise drop pass past Pekka Rinne for the Wild’s franchise-record eighth consecutive road conquest.
“The whole game, it was so much fun to play in,” said Dumba, who had three shots and a career-high five blocked shots. “We stayed resilient, just working. It’s fun in these games when we’re all working toward a common goal. We got rewarded by just sticking to it.”
Dumba, a plus-16 his past 15 games, is third among NHL rookie defensemen with seven goals.
“Everyone’s so happy for him. He’s played so well,” Parise said. “He’s got a bomb of a shot. We saw it there. It’s fun to see the way he’s progressed. He’s been awesome for us. They’re giving him more and more responsibility, and he keeps playing better and better.”
Thanks to Charlie Coyle’s second goal of the game with 6:41 left in regulation, the Wild forced overtime before completing its seventh victory when trailing after two periods. That’s the fourth-most comeback victories in the NHL.
“We don’t want to wait ’til the third period to get things going,” said Coyle, who came off the bench and into the zone as the trailer before receiving Chris Stewart’s sly setup at the top of the right circle. Coyle unleashed a furious slapshot for his 10th goal.
“I don’t think it was our best game overall, but it’s nice to know that we have that fight in us to always come back.”
Coach Mike Yeo called it “another character win for our guys” after the Wild, which had nine shots through two periods, recovered from giving up two goals 45 seconds apart to defenseman Roman Josi late in the second. The Wild was clinging to a 1-0 lead ever since the final minute of the first period when Thomas Vanek and Jordan Leopold set up Coyle as he fought for goalmouth position with defenseman Ryan Ellis.
Ninety seconds after Josi gave Nashville a 2-1 lead, Dumba took a tripping penalty. Leopold flipped a puck in the seats 67 seconds later for a delay-of-game penalty. That gave Nashville a 53-second 5-on-3, but Devan Dubnyk made four saves on the consecutive minors. Keeping the Predators from carrying a two-goal lead into the third was the turning point.
“That kill was enormous,” Yeo said.
The Wild’s penalty kill got a workout, killing four power plays without Minnesota generating a single one for the second time in 13 games. The Wild has drawn two or fewer power plays in 12 of the past 17 games. The Wild’s NHL-best penalty kill, though, is 28-for-29 the past 12 road games and 60-for-63 the past 24 games overall.
Dubnyk made 25 saves and gave up two or fewer goals for the 23rd time in 28 consecutive starts. The Wild is an NHL-best 12-1-2 on the road since Dubnyk arrived Jan. 14.
In overtime, Suter made an incredible play to get the puck up to Dumba to lead the game-winning rush. Suter first stole the puck from Viktor Stalberg, then wiggled around Mike Fisher before losing his footing.
But Suter still made the pass from the ice.
“If he didn’t get that up, the way me, [Dumba and Mikael Granlund] were going the other way, that would have been a 4-on-1 back at our net,” Parise said. “I mean, wow.”