On a night when Darcy Kuemper was great in goal and defenseman Matt Dumba bounced back strong from a difficult game Saturday in Philadelphia, perhaps the biggest emotion coming out of the Wild dressing room here in Ottawa was relief.
There is the feeling the Wild is starting to get the hang of those 3-on-3 overtimes.
OK, so it’s just one game.
But the Wild – which was 1-10 in such situations since the 3-on-3 was instituted – feel the tide might be turning.
“Looking back at our past, it hasn’t been the greatest,” said Dumba, whose overtime game-winner past Senators goaltender Craig Anderson gave the Wild a 2-1 win. “But it’s a new staff, some new players. We’re trying to build a new identity here.’’
Dumba and coach Bruce Boudreau said the team has put in a lot of work on the situation since losing in overtime in New Jersey Oct. 22.
Sunday the Wild had the better of the play through the OT, up until Dumba won it with 1:03 left in the extra session.
“We changed really well,’’ Boudreau said. “Nobody stayed on for more than 35 seconds. If you watch any overtime, you’ll get chances to score. As long as we didn’t give them any odd-man rushes, I felt we were going to get an opportunity to score.’’
Here are some more observations and quotes from tonight’s game:
--Ryan Suter had another very strong game. He was wonderful on the first-period shorthanded goal, carrying the puck to the Senators blue line before feeding Eric Staal on the right. Suter was there to pounce on the rebound of Staal’s backhand. “That’s why he makes the big bucks, man,” Boudreau said. “That’s what your stars do.’’
--Kuemper was a very happy fellow Sunday. He’d had a difficult outing in a loss to the New York Islanders nearly three weeks ago. He’d had to wait a long time for another chance. Sunday he gave up a few rebounds early, but his teammates cleared them. As the game wore on he got better and better.
“They gave him a couple long shots right off the bat,” Boudreau said of the Senators. “He got a chance to feel it. They didn’t get much on the first power play. As the game went on he got more comfortable.’’
With the way the Wild schedule looks going forward, the team is going to need to use Kuemper more. Sunday’s performance will make that easier.
--Boudreau called out Dumba for a few mistakes after the game in Philadelphia Saturday. Sunday Dumba played a strong game, scoring the game-winner. “That’s what pros do,’’ Boudreau said. “I mean, you can get mad at them, but it doesn’t mean you don’t love ‘em. They just get back out there, show their character and have a great game the next night.’’
--Staal, who had an assist Sunday and was a plus-1, has a point in three straight games and in eight of the last nine.
--He didn’t get a point Sunday, but Mikko Koivu was 18-9 on faceoffs, had three takeaways and a blocked shot.
--The Wild had five shots on goal in the overtime session. In their last three games – played in the span of four nights – the team has averaged 37.7 shots per game.