The Wild keeps winning on the road even when not close to its ‘A’ game.
Devan Dubnyk did everything he possibly could do tonight to backstop the Wild to a 3-1 victory, the team’s eighth win in the past nine games to improve to an NHL-best 10-1-2 in its past 13 on the road, NHL-best 18-3-2 in its past 23 and 16-2-1 since the All-Star break.
Tonight was its final game in hand on Winnipeg, and the Wild capitalized by moving three up on the Jets. Remember, the Wild was 14 back on Jan. 17.
Mikael Granlund and Zach Parise scored third-period goals and each had two points, Jason Pominville had two assists one game after having two third-period goals and Dubnyk made 37 saves, his most with the Wild.
The Wild was outshot 38-19, including 16-4 in the second. But Dubnyk was outstanding to improve to 18-3-1 with a 1.60 goals-against average and .940 save percentage. MVP! MVP! MVP!
The Dubnyk story just gets more remarkable by the game and even players, while lauding him, are saying it’s become a broken record after every game talking about just what he means to this group.
Dubnyk called tonight a classic road game and said he just tried to keep things simple and not get lazy as far as finding pucks.
He said with the game 1-1, “that’s a real comfortable spot for us.”
On how the Wild didn’t have its legs or its general sharpness, Dubnyk said, “You’re going to see that sometimes in back-to-backs. When they started to push, the most important thing is just to keep that game where it is and let us have the opportunity to do exactly what we did – capitalize on a couple opportunities in the third period and then kind of grind it out from there.
“We found a way to make big plays when it counted.”
Mike Yeo said the shoddy play at times was a combination of heavy legs from playing the night before against a team that had a four-day break and just not playing well.
“If you played the night before and you’re taking 1:15 shifts, it’s not going to be very productive,” he said. “A lot of that turned into frustration and turned into lack of focus.”
But he gave the guys credit for not letting that frustration ruin the game. The team did a regroup in the third period and came out with the big two points.
Granlund had his fifth multi-point game since the All-Star break and was plus-3. He scored the winner. Parise scored his 26th.
You have to feel for Mikko Koivu. He was on fire before the trades and has dried up since as the Wild continue to look for chemistry on his line. He has no points in the past six games but is still playing well.
Thomas Vanek missed tonight’s game with illness, but Nino Niederreiter returned and set up Charlie Coyle’s game-opening goal.
Again, good win for the Wild as it continues to soar.
Big game Sunday, a game that could be pretty fiery with the Colorado Avalanche coming to town to close the season series. The Avs are 0-4 against the Wild and have scored once. The game in Denver last Saturday ended with Cody McLeod jumping Granlund and fighting Coyle. That triggered a bunch of trash-talking after the game and in the days since.
I will have an advance on all of that in Sunday’s paper. All check out my Sunday column. I talked to Chuck Fletcher about all the draft picks he has traded away the past three years.
I will unfortunately not be in town for Sunday’s game, but Kent Youngblood will be at the controls (@bloodstrib on Twitter). No practice Saturday.