Competitive and dependable.
That’s how to describe the goaltending the Wild has received for much of the season, and No.1 Devan Dubnyk has been the poster boy for that steadiness.
But Dubnyk’s past three appearances have been oddities, a bizarre string of blown leads that culminated in perhaps the team’s worst yet – a 4-3 collapse to the struggling Coyotes Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center.
“I don’t have an answer right now,” Dubnyk said after his 10-save outing. “I feel like we’re playing good hockey, and there’s certainly no feeling in here that anything’s going to happen in the third period. But obviously, we’ll figure out a way to get it done. It’s usually what we do.”
This was Dubnyk’s first game back in the lineup since he was pulled in the third period last Wednesday when the Wild hosted the Senators; he missed the Friday 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets due to illness.
Against Ottawa, the Wild let a 4-1 lead slip away in the final frame and instead of calling a timeout to reset when it became 4-4, coach Bruce Boudreau opted to sub backup Alex Stalock in instead.
“I felt fine,” Dubnyk said about that game. “It was a couple quick plays and what happened, happened. So I wasn’t too worried about it.”
Sandwiched between two other third-period meltdowns (the Wild fell 3-2 to the Sabres Nov.17 despite leading in the third before blowing a 3-1 edge to Arizona), and Dubnyk has gone winless in three consecutive appearances for the first time this season.
“It’s frustrating,” Dubnyk said. “… I felt extremely good all year. As far as plays and different situations in the game, it’s a strange, little three-game stretch here. But the worst thing you can do is let it affect the things that have been going well here. It becomes a challenge. That’s part of sports, and you gotta work a little harder to make sure you don’t go changing anything. But that’s part of it.”
Although the Wild dominated the Coyotes in the second period, tallying more goals (two) than shots from Arizona (one), the lack of work is a unique test for a goalie.
“It’s hard,” Dubnyk said. “That’s a challenge that you have to go through.”
He acknowledged there wasn’t “a lot of flow in my game,” and his timing was off on the game-winning goal when he unsuccessfully lunged at the puck with a poke check.
“If I’m going to pick one, it’s easy to look at that and say I’d rather do something else now,” Dubnyk said.
Dubnyk, who Boudreau said wasn't going to get pulled again like last week, wasn’t the only one lamenting his play after the loss.
So did defenseman Jonas Brodin after he and partner Matt Dumba each finished a minus-4.
“That was really unacceptable for two veterans out there to be playing like that in the third period,” Boudreau said.
The effort by the entire team in the third was lackluster.
After putting 20 shots on net through the first two period, the Wild had just five against a cold goaltender since Adin Hill replaced Antti Raanta for the third after Raanta left the game with a lower-body injury.
“That should have been [our] number one priority, get the puck in and get it on there,” said winger Charlie Coyle, who scored the Wild’s first goal. “Simple, very simple, especially when a guy’s coming in like that. We didn't do enough of that. That's a shame on us."