After doing a postgame radio interview, Devan Dubnyk walked in the locker room and was congratulated by teammate Eric Staal for his 24th career shutout and fifth of the season.
“What for?” the Wild goaltender asked. “I didn’t have to do anything really.”
In what was a suffocating performance by the 18 skaters in front of him, Dubnyk had to face only 18 shots during a 2-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The NHL’s best goaltender statistically virtually all season extended his career-best point-gaining streak to 11 games and the Wild’s winning streak to eight, the second longest in franchise history.
“That was an impressive game by us all the way around,” said Dubnyk, 9-0-2 since Nov. 23 with a 1.51 goals-against average and .947 save percentage. “You look at the end of the game and that’s about the tale of the game. We just keep the puck in their end the last-minute-and-a-half or two minutes. That was a real good effort start to finish for us.”
Despite seemingly having the puck all game, the Wild had to kill four third-period penalties during an officiating display that not only drew the fans’ ire, it sent Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher directly to officiating supervisor Mick McGeough the instant the game ended.
But, for a team that hasn’t lost in regulation in December and is 10-1-3 in its past 14 games, no excuses. The Wild, which has won seven in a row at home, surrendered one shot on those four power plays.
“We didn’t even give them a chance to set up,” Staal said.
Added coach Bruce Boudreau, “Our guys stood up really tall and when we got the penalties, they sort of said, ‘OK, let’s get to work.’ ”
Charlie Coyle’s team-leading 11th goal on a first-period power play was the game-winner, the 11th time in 13 games the Wild has scored first. Captain Mikko Koivu scored in the second with defenseman Matt Dumba, playing his best two-way hockey for two weeks, setting up both goals.
Koivu’s goal was his sixth in 13 games, and he could be seen laughing on the bench because Jason Zucker was ribbing him for stepping in front of him and stealing what could have been his goal.
“I didn’t see him coming behind me,” Koivu said, grinning. “Yeah, he really wanted it.”
The play of Koivu and Staal, in every facet, was sensational. Staal assisted on Coyle’s goal for his ninth point in eight games, and Koivu made Nathan MacKinnon look invisible. Koivu had four shots and won 13 of 18 faceoffs.
“Mikko was dominant throughout the whole game,” Boudreau said. “He seems to really relish when he’s playing against the other team’s top guns.”
The Avs lost for the 11th time in 13 games, but Boudreau reminded his team that not only did they beat the Wild twice in the regular season, they beat Minnesota twice in the preseason.
Boudreau showed clips how in the last meeting when Colorado rallied from two goals down in the third period, “we were just standing around and watching them play. Tonight on every loose puck, we were at least attacking them and challenging them. They’ve got some great skaters up front, and we weren’t letting them skate.”
Boudreau has coached six winning streaks in his career of at least eight games. If the Wild wins in Montreal on Thursday, it would be its ninth win in a row, tying the franchise record.
Dubnyk, 16-6-3 with a league-best 1.55 goals-against average and .948 save percentage, will get to go against the goalie many consider the league’s best, Carey Price.
“Pricer has a pretty good shot, but I don’t think he’s going to be shooting on me,” Dubnyk joked.
Back-to-back games at Montreal and the New York Rangers won’t be easy, but Boudreau said it’ll be a “great challenge.”
“It’s going to be a great test for us,” he said. “You never go into it saying, ‘Bring ’em on.’ That’s not what we’re doing. We are going in there to see if we are really playing well or if it’s sort of a masquerade right now.”