Outcome for the Wild wasn't fun, but fun hockey game to watch.
Lots of scoring chances, speed, skill, end-to-end action and brilliant saves.
If you're a Wild fan, you 100 percent didn't find the latter fun because Corey Crawford no doubt robbed the Wild of victory during this morning/afternoon's 4-2 Chicago Blackhawks victory.
The Wild had by far the better of the chances and possession, but word to the wise: Not a shrewd move to stake the mighty Hawks a 2-0 lead before many fans had a chance to even digest brunch and their first Bloody Mary.
Wild finished the game with a 44-22 shot lead, a 72-43 shot attempt margin and zero points in the standings.
Before we continue, to clear up a few things fans were wondering about postgame:
1. NBC showed video of Devan Dubnyk leaving the bench, turning and talking in Bruce Boudreau's direction after being pulled, then marching down the runway to the locker room.
Some construed that as Dubnyk having words for Boudreau, but as it turns out, he wasn't pulling a Patrick Roy and telling Boudreau to get him the heck out of dodge.
Mikko Koivu and a couple other guys were telling Dubnyk that they had his back. The thankful goalie then thought he felt a tug on his jersey, so he says he turned around.
"Everyone just gave me a pat on the pads," Dubnyk said. "I thought somebody grabbed my jersey to say something. That's the only reason I stopped and looked back. I thought I felt somebody pull my arm so I just turned around to see if someone wanted to say something to me."
The 'someone' probably was Boudreau and the someone was better off probably not saying something because he wasn't pleased with his goalie's start to the game (more on this below).
By the way, on an aside, another reason the video could be miscontrued is because he left the bench. In Chicago, the visiting backup watches from the locker room. That's why it took so long to get Darcy Kuemper. An equipment guy had to get him.
2. I didn't see or hear it because I obviously wasn't watching on TV, but apparently at the end of the game one of the NBC broadcasters said that Eric Staal skated by the Blackhawks bench and told them, "We'll see you guys again," like the playoffs or something.
I asked Staal about that because I saw a bunch of tweets and somebody told me about it in the press elevator. Staal laughed hysterically when I told him the context of his alleged quote, and he completely denied that and said he was yelling at Richard Panik because he was acting like a bozo (my word, I can't remember what he said).
But I know this was a huge thing with Blackhawks fans on social media, so I just wanted to nip it in the bud and say Staal denied the meaning of his words being as they were reported.
Back to the game.
Early game. Didn't seem to affect Crawford. Coincidence or not, Dubnyk looked like a goalie that didn't practice yesterday and didn't have a morning skate.
Boudreau didn't like the two goals on two shots he allowed, but he also said the shot in between that wasn't a hard shot that Dubnyk reacted to slowly said to him (Boudreau) that it wasn't Dubnyk's game.
Asked if the pull was on Dubnyk or to spark a sluggish team, Boudreau said bluntly, "It was on him. You follow a goalie for 68 games, you sort of know his traits and his trends. He didn’t look like he was following the puck well. I just thought he didn’t have it tonight."
I personally think Dubnyk looks shaky because he hasn't seen a lot of reps lately. The Wild's 4-4 since the Martin Hanzal/Ryan White trade, and the team has had two practices since that Feb. 26 deal.
AND THIS JUST IN: I swear this is a total coincidence, but Monday's planned off-day was just scrapped and the Wild will practice in D.C. (there goes my Pentagon tour). I truly wonder if this is partially because Dubnyk needs a legitimate practice.
So, for the fourth meeting of the season, the Wild gave the Hawks a multiple-goal lead. In two previous meetings, the Wild rallied to win or at least force overtime.
Today, the Wild absolutely had the ability to do that, but Crawford was fabulous with a season-high 42 saves.
The deal playing the Hawks, as you well know by now, is they seem to be able to cash in on any mistake and the Wild needs a multitude of chances to be able to convert against them.
The second period, Crawford made 20 saves on 20 shots. But one Matt Dumba bad pinch and one undisciplined play on any many levels by Ryan White led to Trevor van Riemsdyk making it 3-1 (White tripped Jordin Tootoo, then stopped playing to complain to the ref about the delayed penalty. That left Marco Scandella on an island by himself, and Marcus Kruger fed the defenseman for the goal).
In the third, the Wild peppered and peppered. Charlie Coyle hit a post -- one of two the Wild hit in the game that I remember (Jason Zucker). Erik Haula was denied on a breakaway. Jared Spurgeon missed by inches.
One bad play by the pushing Wild, and Duncan Keith sprung Marian Hossa for a breakaway goal.
"This team, if we give them Grade As, it's in the back of the net," Haula said. "My chance 3-2 game, breakaway, that's got to be a goal. Especially against these guys. When they get those chances it's always in the net. I've just got to bury that. We should be in overtime right now -- at least."
The Wild went down to five defensemen in the game by sitting Nate Prosser, so everybody played with everybody. Lots of Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon and Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin for the first time.
Scandella and Dumba again did some good and did some bad, and Dubnyk looked to be giving Dumba a pep talk after the game.
What else? Martin Hanzal headed back to Minnesota sick. Boudreau said he really wanted to see what the Wild lineup looked like with Hanzal against the Hawks. If the Wild's lucky, it'll get that look in the second round assuming both teams win in the first round.
With Hanzal gone, unless he feels better and rejoins the Wild, the Wild has no extra forwards right now and no extra D with Gustav Olofsson and Christian Folin hurt.
So we'll see if the Wild recalls an extra body or two Monday.
Some more quotes, and then I have to catch a flight.
Boudreau on the loss: "It’s disappointing. They were there to be had today. ... We played pretty well. Definitely wasn’t a 4-2 game."
Kuemper on replacing Dubnyk: "You always have to be ready to go. That’s kind of the job. It’s never the easiest task, but you just try to take it one save at a time and get as warm as quickly as you can."
On how the Hawks always capitalize on their chances, it seems, vs. the Wild: "They’re definitely good at capitalizing on their chances. They’re patient and they make good plays. As a goaltender, they have a lot of players that are tough to play against, and that’s why they’ve been so good for so long."
On being pulled vs. Florida: "I thought I was playing a really good game. Outside of two bad puck luck goals there, I thought I was on. I was a little surprised, but it was Bruce’s decision, and it worked out. We came back and got the win, so that was huge for us."
On Granny scoring: We felt like we were right there for a lot of the second. And the start of the third to get a big goal like that right off the bat provides life and gives us a one-shot chance.
On whether the team is encouraged after playing well: We are after wins here. We have a team that comes to play and comes to get two poitns every time we get on the ice. That's our mindset. That's what we expect. obviously we're disappointed with how it ended today. We have lots of hockey left and we have to responded against a good team in Washington coming up.
On being pulled: "That's up to Bruce. Obviously it got us a spark and we got going. Not the way we wanted to start the game. I'm fine to stay in in that situation. I always want to stay in and want to battle. That's completely up to him to decide what he wants to do. If he didn't think I was ready or he wants a spark whatever it is he's the coach and my job is to be ready to stay in there and battle if I need to."
Haula on the early start: "That's all excuses. It's the same for both teams. Just get ready, get up, and play. You can't really -- it's not like they're used to playing at 11:30. You can't really say anything about it. It's tough when two of their best players get some action right away and it's 2-0. It's tough to be away and to be down chasing two goals. We have seen that previously in games and they're a great team, they're tough to beat. If we do face them again that first goal is really important against them."
That's it for now. Hawks are one back of the Wild, which has a game in hand.