That goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the undisputed best player for the Wild through four games is a positive sign.
Having him on-point and locked in is exactly what this team needs to be competitive, especially in the Central Division where dynamic No.1s headline many teams.
But how Dubnyk has emerged as an early-season bright spot isn’t as flattering for the Wild, since he has been peppered with shots – with the 57 he faced Saturday in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Hurricanes at Xcel Energy Center the most surrendered by the Wild in team history.
“We’re going to have to help him out,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “But how can you not play him? He’s out of this world right now.”
Dubnyk tied his career-high in saves with the 52 he posted, which also rank as the second-most stops a goalie has made for the Wild in franchise history – behind only the 53 Dwayne Roloson racked up Nov. 8, 2001, against the Bruins.
It was that game that the Wild gave up 56 shots, the previous franchise record, but a game like Saturday’s didn’t seem entirely out of place considering Dubnyk’s workload in his other three starts.
He has encountered at least 35 shots all but one time and eclipsed 40 last Saturday against Vegas.
After Saturday’s game finished, he ranked first in the NHL in shots faced (167) and boasted the most saves (156).
This productive rhythm is encouraging, but that he’s had to fight off so many shots is indicative of problems in front of him.
“Duby’s playing great,” winger Jason Zucker said. “He’s been great since Day 1 this year. We got to start giving some of these wins that he deserves.”
While they’ll be plenty to fix before the Wild travels to Nashville to take on the Predators Monday, there were a few silver linings Saturday.
The power play finally capitalized after a 0-for-7 start to the season, scoring twice.
“We had good opportunities,” Boudreau said.
Three players scored their first goals of the season; winger Charlie Coyle had the Wild’s first tally, defenseman Jared Spurgeon opened the scoring in the third and winger Mikael Granlund put the team ahead 4-3 late in the period.
“I actually felt pretty good today, but it was one of those games where you're not really touching the puck,” Granlund said. “But I'll get better. There's a lot of season left."
And Zucker continued his spike in scoring of late with a third-period marker – the 100th of his career.
He has four points, including three goals, in his last two games.