NASHVILLE – Devan Dubnyk hasn’t played as much as some NHL goaltenders, with the Wild logging just four games through the first 12 days of the season.
But Dubnyk sat near the top of the league in shots against and saves after those categories spiked during the 52-save effort in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Hurricanes on Saturday — a heavy workload the Wild is mindful of but one Dubnyk hasn’t focused on at the start of the season.
“I kind of don’t really think about it,” he said. “Our job is to stop the puck and get shots. If you’re not taking shots, then you’re not doing much. It’s one of those things with us, those games happen every once in a while. There hasn’t been a ton of them in a row, so I’m not about to start complaining about it.”
Just two goalies had encountered more shots than Dubnyk’s 167 entering Monday’s games, and only Anaheim’s John Gibson had posted more saves than the 156 Dubnyk had. Gibson boasted 168.
Dubnyk was given an extra day to prepare for his next test Tuesday, when the Wild completes a back-to-back at home against the Coyotes, with backup Alex Stalock making his season debut Monday in Nashville.
Stalock’s proficiency at Bridgestone Arena factored into the team’s decision to have him face the Predators; he had allowed just two goals in each of his previous two trips to Nashville.
But giving Dubnyk an extra day of rest also made sense based on his showing Saturday.
He turned aside 52 of 57 shots, which were the most given up by the Wild in team history, tied Dubnyk’s career high for stops and ranked as the second-most saves by a Wild netminder.
Overall, the Wild averaged 42 shots-against through its first four games — most in the league.
While some of that can be attributed to playing a team like the Hurricanes that tends to generate a large shot volume, the Wild would like to get that number much lower.
“For sure, when we’re playing good, teams are getting under 30 shots a game against us,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.
This was Stalock’s first game action since the Wild’s final preseason game Sept. 28, a tuneup that helped him stay ready for the regular season.
“Training camp is a huge part of the season,” said Stalock, who went 10-10-4 with a .910 save percentage and 2.85 goals-against average in 2017-18. “I know guys, it’s not their favorite part of the season. But it’s huge to get feeling good, gamelike situations, get bumped a little bit, see some traffic and obviously power-play situations. You don’t get that a ton in practice. So it’s been good so far. Practice has been good and up-tempo, and I feel good about my game.”
Odd man out
Since Stalock started Monday, defenseman Nate Prosser is the only Wild player on the roster who hasn’t appeared in a game this season.
“You like to play everybody,” Boudreau said. “I don’t like sitting out anybody. It’s probably the worst part of the job telling these guys they aren’t playing. But at the same time, he knows his role, and the one thing about him is he can step in and do it.”
Prosser is used to sitting as an extra defenseman; last season, he skated in just one game with the Blues before he was claimed off waivers by the Wild on Nov.30.
“He came, was in our lineup right away and was good,” Boudreau said.
At the minimum
With center Joel Eriksson Ek sidelined with a lower-body injury, the Wild is carrying only 12 forwards.
Although the team didn’t recall anyone from the American Hockey League before the game Monday, Boudreau acknowledged the Wild could make an addition ahead of the second half of the back-to-back Tuesday depending on how the team fared against the Predators.
• The Wild will host a limited number of free practices open to the public at TRIA Rink this season, the first one Thursday at 10:30 a.m.
Other scheduled open practices are Oct. 23 and 24 and Nov. 2, 14 and 20. All sessions are at 10:30 a.m. except Nov. 14, when practice starts at 11 a.m.
• Monday marked the first game for General Manager Paul Fenton in Nashville since he joined the Wild in May after 20 seasons in the Predators’ front office.